One important victory in which Tom Dean participated was the defeat of a proposal by the District of Columbia Legislative Council to “felonize” possession of marijuana within the District. Tom argued before the council, supported by research and evidence, that since most misdemeanor possession cases were filed against African American males, legislation making possession a felony would only cause more African Americans to become imprisoned in facilities already overpopulated disproportionately by young black males.

The result was to keep possession of less than 8 ounces of marijuana a misdemeanor, thus preventing what would have sent countless persons to prison for nothing more than possessing small amounts of marijuana.