Initiative 81 passes, Decriminalize Nature D.C. talks next steps


WASHINGTON (WDVM) — With unofficial results from D.C. Board of Elections, Initiative 81 has passed.

Across the country, municipalities are still counting ballots and releasing election results. D.C. BOE has counted 50 percent of votes, and some races are unofficially called, including Initiative 81. Melissa Lavasani, Chair of Decriminalize Nature D.C., said, “It’s so wonderful because it just confirms that we did everything right in this campaign.”

The campaign has steadily reported a 76 percent “yes” vote since results started coming out. Lavasani said, “My marker was, if we can get 70 percent of the vote then that’s sending a message not only to our city officials but across the country that there is precedent for this.”

She is referring to the precedent for moving forward with relaxing enforcement of psychedelic drug possession and use. Mayor Muriel Bowser said, “I don’t know that we have that much enforcement around it anyway, so it may mean very little.” Initiative 81 and keeping MPD’s top priorities elsewhere is just the start.

Decriminalize Nature D.C. is now going to try to work with Council to have a worker’s protection law. Lavasani explained, “The ballot initiative was really symbolic in a way, a really small reform, but a worker’s protection bill is something that has real teeth in it.” The worker’s protection bill would keep people caught with the drug from losing their jobs, housing or custody of children.

Lavasani said, “What are the other things we can do to protect the people who are just trying to heal themselves and not harm society.”

Mayor Bowser is not sold on the idea right now, but Lavasani believes that with some discussions and explanations, she will support the initiative and help D.C. become an example to other cities in the country.

If the Initiative is still passed after the official results are released, it will go to Council for a vote before heading to the House and Senate. The process could take around two months.

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