DC now stands for Decriminalization in our nation’s capital. On Tuesday, the Washington DC City Council gave their seal of approval on a controversial bill to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, a move that will strip away stiff criminal penalties and slap stoners on the wrist with civil fines. The new bill eases marijuana restrictions in DC, but does not come close to full legalization or even full decrim. Still, it is a step forward in a year when pro-pot momentum has been unstoppable.
It is now in the hands of Mayor Vincent C. Gray, who has expressed his support for the bill and has said he will sign it. However, due to lawmaking regulations set forth in the District, the bill is required to hang in limbo with the US Congress for 60 days before it can officially become a law -- a factor that has some supporters nervous.
There is fear federal prohibition laws will stop the measure dead in its tracks; yet, most supporters say there is no real threat of Uncle Sam running interference. “I do not expect members of Congress to interfere with DC’s local right to pass its own law on marijuana decriminalization,” said Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton. “If members try to interfere, however, I will stoutly defend D.C.’s right to pass such legislation, just as 17 states have already done.”
Congress has only used its weight to squash legislation in the District three times since 1973.
As of now, people caught in the District with any amount of marijuana are subject to a fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail. Under the new measure, the same offense is punishable with a maximum penalty of a $25 -- the equivalent to a parking ticket. However, public consumption of marijuana is still a misdemeanor offense, one that comes with a maximum penalty of $500 and up to six months in jail… the same racket handed down for anyone caught drinking a beer on the street.
The measure was approved by a vote of 11-1.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.