DC City Council Gives Initial Approval to Marijuana Decriminalization

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director February 4, 2014

    Today, members of the DC City Council voted in favor of the Simple Possession of Small Quantities of Marijuana Decriminalization Amendment Act, which removes criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and reclassifies it as a civil infraction under DC law, punishable by a $25 ticket and no criminal record. Councilwoman Yvette Alexander was the only member who voted in opposition to this measure.

    A 2012 analysis published by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland reported that DC possesses the highest percentage of marijuana possession arrests per capita in the nation.

    However, prior to today’s vote, Council Chairman Phil Mendleson introduced an amendment to retain criminal penalties for marijuana possession offenses that involve public consumption. Despite concerns voiced by Councilmen Wells and Grosso, the amendment was adopted. If the measure is ultimately approved as amended, the public consumption of marijuana would remain a criminal offense subject to arrest and punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

    A final vote by the DC Council on this measure is expected to occur in early March. At that time, the council could also overturn Chairman Mendleson’s amendment. NORML and our allies are advocating for such change, as continuing to criminalize the public consumption of marijuana will only perpetuate the District’s record of racially disparate arrests.

    Once approved by a second vote of the City Council, the legislation enters a 30-day review period by members of Congress.

    DC RESIDENTS: Click here to contact the DC City Council and urge them to support this measure and to oppose the Mendleson amendment.

    18 responses to “DC City Council Gives Initial Approval to Marijuana Decriminalization”

    1. Anonymous says:

      Nice but no chance with this Congress

    2. Carol cripps says:

      This needs to be done in all the states!!

    3. Julian says:

      Does this include the Mall downtown or is that considered Federal property outside of the D.C. area?
      When is the Marijuana March?

    4. bobwv says:

      The Obama Administration has asked which federal prisoners should be granted clemency. Sign ASA’s petition urging Pres. Obama to help Jerry Duval and other imprisoned medical cannabis patients at AmericansforSafeAccess.org/clemency.

    5. TheOracle says:

      Too bad they don’t have retail. Nothing says worldwide cannabis prohibition is over like cannabis coffeeshops in DC, no residency restrictions for consumers of age.

    6. StonedAsian says:

      In March^

    7. Compass says:

      To decriminalize it yet add the public consumption amendment pretty much nullifies the intent of the measure. Since there are testing methods available to law enforcement officers that can detect whether marijuana has been consumed within a short time period then an officer can easily make a case for public consumption and make the arrest. Also, to the anonymous commenter above, this measure doesn’t have to go before congress, because it’s only a DC city council issue.

      [Paul Armentano responds: Laws passed by the DC Council are subject to Congressional review.]

    8. Anonymous says:

      Years ago when NORML was just hitting its stride so to speak, decriminalization was the “holy grail,’ that we were seeking.

      That was before we knew about the endocannabinoid system.

      Once you have a clear picture of the relationship between cannabis and homeostasis, suddenly, decriminalization, rather than full-blown legalization becomes a deadly form of surrender, rather than a type of progress or success.

      Schedule I status is an insult to every living being because it fails to acknowledge the power and role of the endoncannabinoid system and the role it plays in human health.

      Imagine self-medicating with cannabis for an endogenous cannabinoid-deficiency disorder and then being forced into treatment and having your medication taken away.

      That’s not progress. Decrim is the NEW third-way b.s. for sleazy politicians to grab onto.

      Just saying.

    9. Jon says:

      Million Man Marijuana March

      Coming Soon!!!

      NORML let’s make this a reality for 2014.

    10. telejnkie says:

      so in the utopian village of the future where everyone lives in smoke free apartments, all outdoor spaces become public spaces, where does gramma go to smoke her pot? Cant go outside and stand by the door, can’t go in the park, can go in her car (she lives in a village remember and doesn’t drive). How far does she have to walk in the winter to smoke and enjoy her newly found freedom? Alcohol doesn’t pollute the air, so she can do that in her apartment. So this can’t be treated like alcohol in that respect. Having a public ban certainly restricts the freedom that the end of prohibition should bring.