Thanks to your efforts, Councilmembers recently gave initial approval to legislation that will end the mass arrests of people in D.C for the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Many of the changes we feared might water down the bill did not come to pass.
However, Councilmembers did take a huge step back and voted to continue the criminalization of people who use marijuana in public. In doing so, Councilmembers rejected a plan to end arrests for public smoking and treat it as a civil matter, as we do with tobacco smoking where it is not permitted.
We need your help to let Councilmembers know you oppose locking people up for using marijuana on the street.
We know from decades of the war on drugs that threatening people with jail time for using marijuana doesn’t work. We also know that the people who will continue to get locked up for smoking in public will disproportionately be people who have no place to go other than the street. While more affluent residents have options and privacy, people residing in public and low-income housing face eviction for using marijuana in their home and are criminalized for stepping outside to smoke. Thousands of homeless residents have no alternatives at all.
Locking people up for 60 days for public smoking threatens to undermine the ability of this legislation to end the mass arrests of African-American residents – and also low-income and homeless residents. Councilmembers rejected common sense and ignored public demands to stop criminalizing people who possess and use marijuana.
Before Councilmembers take this bill up for the last time on March 4th, they need to hear from you.
Please take just a minute to call or email your Ward Councilmember and At-Large Councilmembers Mendelson, Orange, Bonds, and Catania now and before Tuesday, March 4th to let them know you oppose the criminalization of public smoking.
Through our work with the court system, HIPS has seen the harmful unintended consequences of criminalized drug use that perpetuate cycles of abuse and incarceration, and how it disproportionately affects people of color in D.C. We have seen jobs lost and lives damaged by arrest and incarceration. This legislation will help us focus on what's important here in D.C. -- addressing problematic drug use as a public health issue and remove barriers to changing lives.
Please take a moment to take action today.
Here's contact information for the Council:
Phil Mendelson - Chair
firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 724-8032
David A. Catania - Councilmember (At-Large)
email@example.com (202) 724-7772
Anita Bonds - Councilmember (At-Large)
firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 724-8064
David Grosso - Councilmember (At-Large)
email@example.com (202) 724-8105
Vincent Orange - Councilmember (At-Large)
firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 724-8174
Jim Graham - Councilmember (Ward 1)
email@example.com (202) 724-8181
Jack Evans - Councilmember (Ward 2)
firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 724-8058
Mary M. Cheh - Councilmember (Ward 3)
email@example.com (202) 724-8062
Muriel Bowser - Councilmember - (Ward 4)
firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 724-8052
Kenyan McDuffie - Councilmember (Ward 5)
email@example.com (202) 724-8028
Tommy Wells - Councilmember (Ward 6)
firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 724-8072
Yvette M. Alexander - Councilmember (Ward 7)
email@example.com (202) 724-8068
Marion Barry - Councilmember (Ward 8)
firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 724-8045