Vast Majority of D.C. Voters Don’t Want D.C. Council to Shut Down i-71 Gifting Shops, Polling Finds

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Vast Majority of D.C. Voters Don’t Want D.C. Council to Shut Down i-71 Gifting Shops, Polling Finds


Washington, D.C. has already voted in favor of legalizing weed in the city.  Unfortunately, due to the Harris Rider in the Congressional Budget, D.C. can not spend any money to create a legal and regulated market within the city.  This has caused a ton of turmoil for operators who are trying to work within the cities Initiative 71.  These companies have come together to form an i-71 Committee which works with the community to advocate for all of the operators who are trying to comply with D.C. laws.  


The i-71 Committee recently released a new public opinion poll that shows significant support for i-71 gifting shops or “legacy operators” among current Washington D.C. voters.  People do not mind the gifting stores within Washington, D.C.


The Background on the Poll


The research, conducted by renowned President Obama pollster Cornell Belcher’s brilliant corners Research & Strategies, between September 6th and September 12th, included 610 telephone interviews with likely D.C. voters. Respondents were asked about their views of cannabis regulation, Initiative 71, the D.C. Council’s priority issues, the At-Large D.C Council race, and what they want their elected officials to address.  


Overall, this research shows that District voters overwhelmingly support Initiative 71 and legacy operators. The majority of voters said they would like the D.C. Council to reform current laws so that legacy operators can participate in a regulated cannabis market, rather than a complete shutdown of the gifting economy.  There have been numerous attempts to quell the D.C. market.  Most recently, there was a Joint Cannabis Task Force, which was then put on hold in early September by Mayor Muriel Bowser.  


The Key Findings of the Poll 


Key findings include:

  • 66% of likely D.C. voters support Initiative 71 and its current implementation in the city, including cannabis gifting. Only 27% oppose.
    • There is still broad support for cannabis legalization across the city:
      • 72% support
      • 23% oppose
    • Most voters are still familiar with i-71:
      • 61% familiar
      • 38% not familiar
  • 75% of voters would rather see the District reform current laws to create a more regulated cannabis economy, as opposed to only 19% that would like a total shutdown of the gift economy.
  • Regulating cannabis is not an issue of concern. D.C. voters want their elected officials to address three main issues:
    • 81% removing illegal guns;
    • 81% lowering crime rates;
    • 79% addressing mental health;
    • Cannabis regulation is an extremely low priority for voters, ranking last across all demographic breakouts at just 26%.
  • The race for At-Large D.C. Council is a statistical tie within the margin of error between Anita Bonds, Kenyan McDuffie and Elissa Silverman.
    • 38% of likely voters remain undecided about which two candidates they will vote for in the At-Large D.C. Council race. It’s completely up in the air.
  • A broad majority of voters strongly oppose D.C. Council action against i-71 gifting shops:
    • 63% of voters oppose D.C. Council action against i-71 stores, including:
      • 65% of Bonds supporters;
      • 68% of Silverman supporters;
      • and 61% of McDuffie supporters.
    • Only 27% of voters support D.C. Council action against i-71 stores
  • Voters are even prepared to punish candidates who take actions against i-71 gifting shops:
    • 64% of voters would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports shutting down small businesses operating in the cannabis gift economy.
      • 66% of Anita Bonds supporters would be less likely to support her;
      • 68% of Elissa Silverman supporters would be less likely to support her;
      • 59% of Kenyan McDuffie supporters would be less likely to support him.
  • Voters are greatly concerned about the consequences of shutting down i-71 shops with:
    • 84% of voters worried about more legal consequences for people of color;
    • 69% worried about more gun violence as a result;
    • 70% worried about pop-ups coming back, creating more violence;
    • 65% worried about the illegal black market on the streets;
    • 70% worried about the penalization of small businesses, most of which are minority-owned.
  • D.C. voters cited “too many guns on our streets” and “lack of economic opportunity” as the main causes behind crime rates… only 4% of voters cited “decriminalization of marijuana” as a factor.


“The key takeaway here is this: If the D.C. Council shuts down i-71 stores, it will push the cannabis industry back to the streets,” said Terrence White, Chairman of the i-71 Committee. “That will lead to more gun violence centered around cannabis sales in our city and lead to an increase in the number of non-violent drug offenses interfacing with law enforcement. It’s also abundantly clear District voters do not want D.C. Councilmembers to act and punish our stores. It’s not perfect right now, but punishment will only cause more problems, and we’re here to find solutions.”


What the Washington D.C. Voters Care About


The data is clear, D.C. residents think the D.C. Council should focus on concerns that are most important to their residents and the regulation of I-71 shops isn’t one of the issues. Following the upcoming At-Large contest, these results also indicate that a majority of D.C. voters are prepared to cast a vote against Councilmembers who favor legislation that would shut down I-71 companies, including two thirds of Bonds and Silverman supporters and over 60 percent of McDuffie supporters.


We are hoping District officials will listen to the opinions of their constituents and begin working with groups such as The i-71 Committee to find the best solutions for this issue.


About the i-71 Committee

The i-71 Committee is a not-for-profit coalition of citizens, industry leaders and stakeholders who are committed to working alongside the DC Council to pass equitable, fair, and socially conscious cannabis legislation. In the 2014 election, DC voters successfully passed Initiative 71 (i-71), which permitted DC residents 21 and up to carry up to two ounces of marijuana and allowed for them to possess and cultivate up to three marijuana plants. However, due to DC’s lack of statehood and impositions made by Congress, the city has not been able to mandate the expenditure of city funds for Initiative 71. The i-71 Committee is helping to ensure that local stakeholders have their voices represented in any cannabis legislation, both locally and federally while showcasing the importance of providing protections for current i-71 businesses