District Of Columbia’s Marijuana Decriminalization Ordinance Goes Into Effect Tonight

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 16, 2014

    A new District ordinance reducing marijuana possession penalties to a $25.00 fine-only violation goes into effect at midnight tonight.

    Washington, DC City Council members overwhelmingly approved the legislation, entitled “The Simple Possession of Small Quantities of Marijuana Decriminalization Amendment Act,” this past spring. The measure amends District law involving the possession or transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (formerly punishable by up to 6 months incarceration and a maximum fine of $1,000) to a civil violation (punishable by a $25.00 fine, no arrest, no jail time, and no criminal record).

    Offenses involving the public consumption of cannabis remain classified as a criminal misdemeanor under DC law, punishable by up to six-months in jail and a $500 fine. The possession of cannabis-related paraphernalia will be re-classified as a violation, not a criminal offense.

    An analysis published by the American Civil Liberties Union reported that the District possesses the highest percentage of marijuana possession arrests per capita in the nation.

    Weeks ago, Congressman Andrew Harris (R-MD) introduced a language to undermine the implementation of this act. However, that provision remains pending and is strongly opposed by the White House.

    The District’s $25.00 fine-only measure is similar to existing ‘decriminalization’ laws in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont where private, non-medical possession of marijuana is treated as a civil, non-criminal offense.

    Five additional states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio — treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense.

    Three states — Alaska, Colorado, and Washington — impose no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    23 responses to “District Of Columbia’s Marijuana Decriminalization Ordinance Goes Into Effect Tonight”

    1. brian b says:

      What about maryland, aren’t they fine only now?

    2. mexweed says:

      Closer but no cigar— “cannabis-related paraphernalia” downgraded to violation is not enough. The law still discriminates in favor of H-ot B-urning O-verdose M-onoxcide rolling papers which can be possessed without any fine or penalty on the premise that they are for tobacco, or which are easy to hide, quickly used up etc. compared to a vaporizer or a flexible drawtube one-hitter.

      The $igarette industry pays the politicians to discriminate not only against cannabis and for tobacco, but against safer ingesting procedures in favor of the high-profit combustion $igarette format.

    3. Dave Evans says:

      Finally an anti-marijuana law that isn’t a criminally stupid waste of law enforcement.

      See Norml? This is a legal anti-marijuana law. It doesn’t require the police to lie in court for it to be applied or to maintain public support.

      Now we are where we were supposed to be back in 1975. Yay!

    4. Cup says:

      This is encouraging and a step in the right direction, but I can not believe the hypocrisy that marijuana possession is still punishable with a fine when someone can purchase an unlimited amount of alcohol without risking any penalty. hopefully, marijuana will be legalized altogether in Washington DC soon.

    5. Ben says:

      Congress needs to puff-puff/pass “The Simple Possession of Small Quantities of Marijuana Decriminalization Amendment Act” for the States of the Union!

      “The U.S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress and the District is therefore not a part of any U.S. state.”


    6. Wesley price says:

      Needs to be retroactive.

    7. Mike says:

      This is really good to read. Here in Massachusetts it is just $100 fine (civil citation) for possession of anything under one ounce.

    8. I love the progress in 2014

    9. Judy says:

      Congressman Andrew Harris (R-MD) – I would like to thank you for reminding all of us why we should not vote for you in the next election! prohibitionists beware, your days are numbered.

    10. Jim says:

      Beware of backward progress!! Although many of these new marijuana reform laws seem to be a step in the right direction, we should be carefull that we dont give up future progress for immidiate reform. Some politicians will stop at nothing to have thier way (http://blogs.rollcall.com/hill-blotter/d-c-officials-say-no-thanks-to-house-marijuana-hearing/?dcz=) They act like children , flat out refusing to participate in forward progression by not supporting reform laws in any way or putting contradictions in the laws.