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February 12, 2014 Dear Chairman Mendelson, The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) strongly endorses

the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014.We write to urge you to pass this legislation in its original, introduced form, and end the mass arrests of DC residents for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Founded in 2003, NCTE works to advance justice, opportunity, and well-being for transgender people and their loved ones. Together with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, NCTE conducted the largest survey to date on the experiences of transgender people, the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS). The NTDS found that fully 1 in 8 transgender people, more than 1 in 5 transgender women, and nearly half (47%) of Black transgender people had been incarcerated in the past. Trans people, like their non-trans counterparts, are overwhelming arrested and incarcerated for minor, nonviolent offensesa reality confirmed by the NTDS finding that most formerly incarcerated transgender people have served misdemeanor sentences of less than one year, with a majority serving less than six months. Decriminalization would mean fewer trans people needlessly incarcerated. These extremely high rates of incarceration reflect a cycle of societal discrimination and economic marginalization faced by many transgender people, both flowing from and contributing to disproportionate rates of job loss, poverty, and homelessness. Prosecution and a criminal record for mere marijuana possession, with all the collateral consequences it carries, robs many individuals of the opportunity to overcome these social and economic barriers. We urge you to adopt this bill in its original, introduced form, and to strip the amendment that would decriminalize possession but still deal with public smoking within the criminal justice system. Concerns about public smoking of marijuana may be legitimate, but they do not justify the cost or the consequences of prosecuting and jailing DC residents. Passage of this legislation in its original form will put the Districts resources and the lives of its residents to better use by addressing drug use as a public health issue. Sincerely,

Mara Keisling Executive Director

1325 Massachusetts Ave. NW Suite 700 Washington, DC 20005 202.903.0112(V) 202.393.2241(F)

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