Washington, D.C. Mayor Signs Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession in Nation’s Capital

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 31 2014 7:18 PM

Washington, D.C. Mayor Signs Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession in Nation’s Capital

142151464-wegrow-marijuana-cultivation-supply-store-is-seen
A weGrow marijuana cultivation supply store is seen during its grand opening March 30, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. isn’t quite the laissez-faire marijuana financial capital that Colorado is—but it’s inching closer. On Monday, D.C. Mayor Vince Gray signed a bill decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of pot in the nation’s capital. Possession of up to one ounce of marijuana will now be slapped with a $25 fine while, previously, Reuters reports, “possession had been a misdemeanor carrying up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.”

The D.C. city council passed the decriminalization measure overwhelmingly earlier this month joining 16 other states that have softened their stance on marijuana. According to WAMU, NPR’s Washington, D.C. affiliate, “support for the measure built after a 2013 report by the ACLU found that D.C. leads the nation in marijuana arrests, and that black residents are eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts.”

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Despite the approval of D.C.’s elected officials, the bill still faces a 60-day congressional review before going on the books. WAMU reports that D.C. laws are rarely blocked by Congress, but a medical marijuana ballot initiative was rejected in 1998. If the bill passes the congressional hurdle it will be implemented “by the summer,” according to WAMU.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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