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DC Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Signed

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director March 31, 2014

    This afternoon, “The Simple Possession of Small Quantities of Marijuana Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2013” was signed by the mayor after being approved by the city council in a 10 to 1 vote. This measure amends the punishment for the possession or transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to 6 months incarceration and a maximum fine of $1,000) to a civil violation (punishable by a $25 fine, no arrest, no jail time, and no criminal record).

    “DC has the most egregious racially disparate marijuana arrests of any city in the country,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “This measure is a great first step in ending the devastation marijuana arrests have on the city’s communities and will allow law enforcement to better allocate their resources towards more dire crimes.”

    NORML commends Councilman Tommy Wells on championing the measure through the city council.

    “This is a victory for the District and a victory for justice. This bill is a tremendous stride to end the disproportionate sociological and economic impact of marijuana arrests on African Americans – arrest that pull families apart and keep our residents from jobs, higher education and housing opportunities,” Councilman Tommy Wells said about the bill signing.

    Due to federal oversight of the District, this measure will not officially become law until it is received by the US Congress and undergoes a period of review. This review period is likely to extend into late summer, we will update you when it has been finalized. If Congress choses not to act to overturn the measure, it becomes DC law.

    22 Responses to “DC Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Signed”

    1. Julian says:

      Congratulations to everyone at NORML, Tommy Wells, and to the people of the District of Columbia. This is a remarkable achievement of many more to come.
      I still need to know; how does this affect Federal Property on the National Mall? Would the DEA even dare to police and punish “million marijuana march” or even CAN they?

    2. Galileo Galilei says:

      “If Congress chooses not to act to overturn the measure, it becomes DC law.”

      The name Bob Barr springs to mind.

    3. Kyle says:

      A positive step, but obviously not true freedom. This debate should not be couched in racial disparity, but in the fact that adults deserve choice, not restriction.

    4. Grant says:

      “DC has the most egregious racially disparate marijuana arrests of any city in the country,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “This measure is a great first step in ending the devastation marijuana arrests have on the city’s communities and will allow law enforcement to better allocate their resources towards more dire crimes.” I seriously thought New York had a much greater minority arrest rate for small quantity marijuana related arrests due to the stop and frisk laws and racially biased (typically white) police officers who use appearance and race to profile and target minorities for this ridiculous war on U.S. citizens, not drugs. The racial disparity between the police and the minority population in NYC is insane, as not only has this been happening for well over a decade, but NYC has done little to curb their enthusiasm for arresting black boys for bud – which usually isn’t in plain sight in the first place. These cops were pulling the bags out of these kids pockets, and saying “Oh, marijuana is decriminalized in NY, but it can’t be in plain sight. You shouldn’t have pulled that out. Jail time, dude, it’s where you all belong anyway.” The system is so broken and corrupt, that it becomes brain numbing, and often hard to swallow. This is a wonderfully uplifting change to get the ball rolling in the right direction!

    5. Kyle says:

      Really??? A comment suggesting decriminalization is not an end game and that justice outweighs race gets struck? Guess we are part of the problem.
      Legalize, tax, regulate for ALL.

    6. Ray says:

      Tommy Wells should run for President.

      It’s already April and New York’s senators have not put a bill forward to vote. I say put it up for a vote now and get our economy out of the toilet.

      Stop arresting people who use mj and consider the “gateway theory” as just another myth. Or better yet let congress answer to the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. The NBCSL should kick their ass for allowing such a racially charged law continue.

    7. dk says:

      Recently, I heard Texas Governor Rick Perry say something about reducing the penalty for marijuana possession, so it didn’t include jail time, but, I haven’t heard anything about when or if that might actually happen. How about it Norml ? Do you guys know what the status is on that issue ?

    8. This law would be a significat advancement for the cause of marijuana legalization, since Washington D.C. is quite literally the heart of politics in the United States.

    9. Desert Haze says:

      I wish I could say that this whole decrim thing gave me a warm fuzzy but I doesn’t. I know its a step in the right direction, but it still feels dirty to me. The black market is still netting all the profit and a “dirty” UA will still make you jobless. Feels like a dirty step in the right direction.

    10. Joey No-Thumbs says:

      I’d like to be at NORML’s home office for the after-party on the day this law goes into effect!

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