Earlier today Washington, DC moved one step closer to decriminalizing cannabis when the DC Council’s Committee voted 5-0 in support of a bill that would end all criminal charges for those busted with small amounts of weed. Under the currently law, even a joint could land you in jail for six months.
The “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014” would reduce holding an ounce or less for personal use in the nation’s capital to a $25 fine, while public consumption of pot would result in a heftier $100 penalty.
Grant Smith of Drug Policy Alliance told Huffington Post: “Symbolically it’s very important … people who live in the District of Columbia are no longer going to be subject to arrest and a criminal record for possession of a small amount of marijuana, once this legislation has passed.”
Activists also project pot decrim in DC to benefit the city’s African-American population, which currently comprises a highly disproportionate nine out of every ten weed arrests in the District.
The bill will likely pass the full 13-member Council in the next few weeks before moving on to DC Mayor Vincent Gray, who is expected to sign it – though he did express reservations about decrim last year.
After that the bill must be approved by the US Congress, which controls the District’s funding and could theoretically kill the decrim bill. However, attitudes are changing among federal lawmakers and Congress previously allowed medical marijuana in DC in 2009 after an 11-year ban.
One warning to potential public tokers in monument-rich DC – even with decrim, federal cops can still arrest those possessing any amount of weed.