Marijuana Likely To Be Decriminalized in D.C.

Oct 28, 2013

Before long, smok­ing a joint in the nation’s cap­i­tal might get you in even less trou­ble than park­ing on the wrong side of the street on street-cleaning day. Ten of 13 mem­bers of the D.C. Coun­cil and Mayor Vin­cent C. Gray (D) have endorsed a plan to make small-time mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion a civil rather than a crim­i­nal offense. That means recre­ational cannabis users wouldn’t face arrest, charges or jail time — any of which can destroy their lives — as long as they aren’t caught with more than an ounce of the drug. Instead, they would have to pay a fine, per­haps as low as $25. (The mayor also wants crim­i­nal penal­ties to remain for any­one caught using it in pub­lic.) Much of the debate over the idea has focused on an Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union report that sug­gests that the Dis­trict and many other juris­dic­tions enforce their anti-marijuana laws unfairly, dis­pro­por­tion­ately arrest­ing African Amer­i­can sus­pects. On these pages, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier pushed back, insist­ing that fac­tors such as a geo­graphic con­cen­tra­tion of tips about mar­i­juana users, not biased polic­ing, are respon­si­ble for the city’s arrest fig­ures. That debate does not need to be resolved to con­clude that main­tain­ing crim­i­nal penal­ties for small-time users of any race doesn’t make sense. Enforc­ing crim­i­nal penal­ties against those who aren’t involved in traf­fick­ing or sell­ing the drug would be too harsh and a waste of gov­ern­ment resources. As it stands, very few peo­ple in the Dis­trict are pros­e­cuted for pos­sess­ing less than an ounce of mar­i­juana, unless there are other charges to go along with it. But even an arrest can make it dif­fi­cult to find a good job. Refrain­ing from enforc­ing crim­i­nal penal­ties, on the other hand, would pro­mote dis­re­spect for the law. An all-around bet­ter pol­icy, long cham­pi­oned by Dis­trict lawyer Paul Zuker­berg, would be to slap small-time users with a civil fine, which is a mea­sured way to send a mes­sage that the gov­ern­ment does not con­done or tol­er­ate mar­i­juana use. No one’s life would be per­ma­nently marred by get­ting caught with a joint. But vio­la­tors would still have to pay, lit­er­ally. In that vein, we would sug­gest that $25 — a smaller fine than that attached to low-level park­ing vio­la­tions — is too mod­est a penalty. Mary­land law­mak­ers con­sid­ered set­ting a $100 fine this year, the same level that New York state approved last year. That sounds like the right size. Atti­tudes about mar­i­juana are chang­ing, and quickly. A recent Gallup poll found that an aston­ish­ing 58 per­cent of Amer­i­cans now favor legal­iz­ing the drug. Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton state have both tried to do just that by chang­ing their drug laws. Fed­eral law still treats mar­i­juana as an illicit sub­stance, but Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric H. Holder Jr. announced a pol­icy this year that aims fed­eral resources at high-level offend­ers. And now the Dis­trict gov­ern­ment is poised to join the 15 states that have decrim­i­nal­ized small-time pot pos­ses­sion. Of all the offi­cial reac­tions to chang­ing mores on mar­i­juana, decrim­i­nal­iza­tion is the best. Source: Wash­ing­ton Post (DC) Pub­lished: Octo­ber 27, 2013 Copy­right: 2013 Wash­ing­ton Post Com­pany Con­tact: letters@​washpost.​com Web­site: http://​www​.wash​ing​ton​post​.com/

26e89c46b3nt 006.jpg 150x90 Marijuana Likely To Be Decriminalized in D.C.

Orig­i­nally posted here:
Mar­i­juana Likely To Be Decrim­i­nal­ized in D.C.

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