D.C. Council Bill Seeks To Decriminalize MJ

Jul 11, 2013

Mar­i­juana advo­cates in the Dis­trict have a few friends on the D.C. Coun­cil. D.C. Coun­cilmem­ber Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) unveiled a bill Wednes­day morn­ing that would decrim­i­nal­ize pos­ses­sion of small amounts of mar­i­juana, accord­ing to WUSA9. Under the bill, any­one caught with less than one ounce of mar­i­juana would face a civil penalty of a $100 fine. Under cur­rent law, pos­ses­sion of mar­i­juana is a mis­de­meanor offense; first-time offend­ers face up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. At a press con­fer­ence, Wells said that the pur­pose of decrim­i­nal­iza­tion is to save youths caught with mar­i­juana from los­ing employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties in the future. “Once you have a mar­i­juana charge on your record, you can­not par­tic­i­pate in cer­tainly the con­struc­tion boom that is hap­pen­ing all over the city, and it works to stig­ma­tize peo­ple … and it dis­ad­van­tages them from jobs,” Wells said, accord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post. A report by the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union in June found that D.C. leads the nation in mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion arrests per capita, with a rate more than three times higher than the national aver­age. The ACLU also found that nation­ally African Amer­i­cans are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion than whites, even though the two groups use mar­i­juana at a nearly equal rate. The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion was hailed by mar­i­juana advo­cacy orga­ni­za­tions. “It is time to adopt a more sen­si­ble mar­i­juana pol­icy in our nation’s cap­i­tal, and that is what Coun­cil­man Wells has pro­posed,” said Mor­gan Fox, a spokesman for the Mar­i­juana Pol­icy Project, in a press release. Accord­ing to sur­veys, the major­ity of D.C. res­i­dents sup­port decrim­i­nal­iz­ing and legal­iz­ing mar­i­juana. A poll con­ducted by Pub­lic Pol­icy Polling in April found that 75 per­cent of D.C. res­i­dents sup­port decrim­i­nal­iz­ing pos­ses­sion of small amounts of mar­i­juana and that 63 per­cent sup­port legal­iz­ing and tax­ing mar­i­juana for those 21 and older. Mayor Vin­cent Gray, how­ever, has said that the Dis­trict should focus on the imple­men­ta­tion of its med­ical mar­i­juana pro­gram before con­sid­er­ing the decrim­i­nal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana more broadly. Coun­cil Chair­man Phil Mendel­son (D) is also skep­ti­cal of decrim­i­nal­iz­ing mar­i­juana, cit­ing fed­eral con­cerns. “I don’t think it’s the right time,” Mendel­son told the Post in May, adding, “I don’t think decrim­i­nal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana will go over eas­ily with Con­gress.” Wells intro­duced the leg­is­la­tion with Coun­cilmem­ber Mar­ion Barry (D-Ward icon cool D.C. Council Bill Seeks To Decriminalize MJ and six addi­tional co-sponsors, includ­ing Coun­cilmem­ber David Grosso (I-At Large), who has said he would sup­port a bill to legal­ize mar­i­juana. If the Dis­trict does decrim­i­nal­ize mar­i­juana for per­sonal use, it would join 14 states that already have sim­i­lar laws on the books. This story has been updated to note the intro­duc­tion of the D.C. Coun­cil bill with mul­ti­ple co-sponsors. Source: Huff­in­g­ton Post (NY) Author: Will Wrigley Pub­lished: July 10, 2013 Copy­right: 2013 Huff​in​g​ton​Post​.com, LLC Con­tact: scoop@​huffingtonpost.​com Web­site: http://​www​.huff​in​g​ton​post​.com/

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D.C. Coun­cil Bill Seeks To Decrim­i­nal­ize MJ

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