Local lawmakers decriminalize marijuana possession in DC

The District of Columbia on Wednesday moved closer to easing restrictions on marijuana, as city lawmakers advanced a measure that would decriminalize possession of up to one ounce of the drug. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/16/us/dc-lawmakers-advance-measure-to-loosen-marijuana-law.html?ref=us
In a unanimous voice vote, the City Council’s public safety committee sent the full Council a measure that would make possessing marijuana a civil, not criminal, violation, subject to a fine as low as $25 and seizure of the drug.
The penalty for possessing any amount of marijuana in the District of Columbia is up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. It is legal for medicinal use.
Tommy Wells, a Democratic councilman who is running for mayor this year, introduced the measure last summer, arguing that the existing law disproportionately punishes black residents and costs too much to enforce.
Under the new measure, smoking marijuana in public places including train stations would be subject to a $100 fine. Selling marijuana would remain a crime.
The full Council will likely cast a first vote on the bill on Feb. 4, said Jack Pfeiffer, a spokesman for Mr. Wells. The Council must approve legislation twice before it goes to the mayor. It would then be subject to a 30-day review by Congress before it could be enacted.
Ten of the 13 council members supported the bill when it was introduced, and the measure is expected to pass. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, a Democrat, also supports the measure, a spokesman, Pedro Ribeiro, confirmed Wednesday.

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