D.C. Council poised to decriminalize maurijuana

The Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety of the D.C. Council voted last Wednesday in favor of a bill that begins the decriminalization of marijuana. If this bill is passed by the entire council in the coming weeks, possession of marijuana will come with a mere $25 price tag and no jail time.

Smoking on the Mall and other Federal properties, however, will retain high penalizations as a misdemeanor, including a $1,000 fine and a year jail time.

The Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014 was co-written by public safety chair and mayoral candidate Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). His committee expressed unanimous support for the bill; two other committee are also mayoral candidates: Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4).

Such wide-spread support for decriminalization among relatively high profile lawmakers has arose in part from timely studies on disproportionate arrest rates for black marijuana possessors in the District. Relaxing possession punishment is a favorite solution to this disparity among legislators, according to DCist.

Major Vincent Gray has told the Washington Post that he supports the public safety’s committee first actions on this issue.

When asked for his opinion for legalization, Gray replied: “I’m not there yet.”

The political campaign for full legalization is already well in motion, though. D.C. Council member David P. Grosso (I-At Large) has written a bill for legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana in the District. The D.C. Cannabis Campaign has submitted a ballot initiative that backs possession of two ounces and personal growth up to three plants by District residents 21 years old and above.

If the D.C. Board of Elections finds this initiative legitimate, D.C. Cannabis Campaign must gather 25,000 signatures in 180 days for the bill to be brought before the Council. If passed, the bill will go to Congress.

“We are uniquely disenfranchised,” said Gray on the Congressional review to which any D.C. legislation is subject. He is undecided whether he will sign the above petition, but has promised not to obstruct District residents’ opportunity to do so themselves.

The public safety committee’s unanimous approval of decriminalization is another step further towards legalization and very happy college students District-wide.

Photo: Katheirne Hatt via Flickr

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