After a seemingly endless run-up, the 2018 midterm election is finally just a day away. Who are the local candidates that could usher in changes to local marijuana laws? In the District, the Council seats in Wards 1, 3, 5 and 6 are all on the ballot, as well as Mayor, Congressional Representative, Council Chairman and two of the four At Large Council seats. The Democrat candidates are considered a shoe-in, in all of the Ward races. And two candidates that have supported marijuana legislation in the past, Charles Allen in Ward 6 and Brianne Nadeau in Ward 1, are both heavily favored to win their respective races.
Muriel Bowser is poised to clench her second, four term as the Mayor of the District and is basically running unopposed. Bowser is not a doll of the District’s marijuana lobby. She was first elected in 2014, at the same time Initiative 71 passed and since then Bowser has done little to shape marijuana policy and define how the District reacts to the “gray market”. Though the District’s medical marijuana program has expanded during the Bowser administration, it has stalled out in terms of new patient registrations. This is likely a result of particularly onerous registration process and the ease with which one can obtain less expensive marijuana in the gray market.
Eleanor Holmes Norton has been the District’s non-voting representative in Congress for 27 years and at age 81 she is very likely to win another two year term. Holmes Norton has been a longtime advocate of sensible, social justice oriented drug policies. More recently, she introduced legislation that would allow medical marijuana patients and recreational users to consume marijuana in public housing if they live in a state where it legal.
The races for two of the District’s at large council seats, may be the most contentious of the 2018 slate. Incumbent Anita Bonds is favored to win an easy victory, but Dionne Reeder appears to be running closely against incumbent Elissa Silverman. Silverman is considered a progressive and though she questioned Initiative 71 when she ran in 2014, she has largely embraced pro-marijuana legislation during her time on the Council. Finally, Phil Mendelson is running for his second term as Council Chair. Phil is not an outspoken opponent or supporter of marijuana, but he did refuse a joint when marijuana advocates were handing them to Councilmembers out at the Wilson building (the District’s City Hall) back in March.
What it all comes down to? Even though the District’s election may not have the National import or wonky sexiness of say the elections in Florida, Georgia or even Maryland (to name just a few) voting in the midterms does matter, even in the District so get off your ass and vote on Tuesday November 6th.