DC Leads the Way for Marijuana DecriminalizationAuthor: Portner & Shure
A bill was passed on Tuesday which no longer makes possession of marijuana and smoking marijuana in the privacy of one's home a criminal offense in the District of Columbia. The bill will not turn into law until it has sat before the congressional panel for 60 days. Despite this obstacle, many are optimistic and believe that federal lawmakers will not intervene. The council vote was 10 to 1, which demonstrates landslide support for this bill.
Under the bill, the new penalty for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana would be a fine of $25. For consumption of marijuana within a private residence, the penalty is the same fine. Despite these changes, there is still a question as to the penalty for possession and consumption where federal and local jurisdictions overlap, such as on the Mall or within public housing.
What is so monumental about this movement within in DC, in particular, is that this bill was framed as a civil rights issue. As of late, there has been an outcry of the public denouncing the racial disparity in which drug arrests are made in the city when compared to those of other major cities. Many consider this a win for both civil liberties and civil rights.