Voters in the District of Columbia will have a chance in April to make a statement in the nationwide debate about marijuana legalization.
Paul Zukerberg, an attorney who specializes in defending cannabis possession cases, plans to compete in the April 23 special election for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council, reports Tim Craig at The Washington Post
Zukerberg, 55, who has defended more than 1,000 marijuana cases during his 27-year legal career, said he’s running for the council on a platform of decriminalizing marijuana in the District.
“We are behind New York,” the attorney said. “We are behind Chicago. We are locking up young people and giving them records for a joint or roach of marijuana.
“These kids can’t get jobs,” Zukerberg said. “They can’t get into school. They are on probation.”
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Per capita, D.C. holds the dubious distinction of being #1 nationally in marijuana arrests, with more than 4,000 busts per year, according to Zukerberg’s site, DC Marijuana Law.
If elected, Zukerberg would join another marijuana legalization proponent — former Mayor Marion Barry — on the council. But Zukerberg said he was also campaigning for improved education, more sustainable transportation and ethics reform.
After getting his law degree in the early 1980s, Zukerberg began representing clients arrested for marijuana possession. He eventually created the website www.dcmarijuanalaw.com
Zukerberg is currently gathering the signatures of 3,000 registered voters in order to qualify for the ballot. He said he was confident that he can rally support from other D.C. residents who support the decriminalization of marijuana.
“There is a tsunami coming and it’s coming from the West,” Zukerberg said, pointing to the legalization of cannabis in Colorado and Washington. “Why should D.C. be last on social legislation? Why should we be last on jobs? We should we be last on education?”
Even if Zukerberg’s candidacy is unsuccessful, he could flush out other contenders, including Democratic incumbent Anita Brooks, on their views regarding marijuana legalization.
D.C. voters have been friendly to pro-marijuana candidates recently. Independent David Grosso told The Washington Post during the fall campaign that would would support decriminalizing cannabis if it came up for a vote. Grosso won the race, unseating incumbent Michael A. Brown.