Loose Lips

D.C. May Decriminalize Marijuana

Ward 6 D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells' marijuana decriminalization bill earned nine other backers at today's D.C. Council mega-hearing. That means there could be a Council majority for an inevitable vote on the bill, which would replace criminal penalties for possession of less than an ounce of pot with a $100 fine.

The bill, which would also legalize marijuana smoking accessories, also earned the support of Washington's NAACP chapter. If passed, the bill would address the District's racial disparity in marijuana enforcement—an ACLU study last month found that black Washingtonians were far more likely to be arrested for possession than a white resident. Wells is aiming to have a vote on the bill by the end of the year.

Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier, though, isn't a fan. In a statement released this afternoon, Lanier called for a "robust discussion" on the bill and kicked that discussion off herself. She's got a host of concerns about the bill: Will decriminalization make more kids get high? Will it make pot plants stronger? The chief's just asking!

Wells also hasn't won over colleague Yvette Alexander, who says she opposes decriminalization and legalization. "I say if it's illegal, keep it against the law," Alexander tells LL.

Cannabis photo via Shutterstock

  • Chris

    How on earth could it mean more kids will get high? If you don't pass it, will more kids NOT get high? Probably not.

    How on earth could it make pot plants stronger? Just the fact that your calling it "pot" seems as if your a decade late on this discussion.

    Keep challenging and changing things Mr. Wells. We support you.

  • CrazyMBA

    I am not impressed with Alexander. There never seems a logical approach for her supporting or opposing a bill. God bless the people of Ward 7.

    We know there is a disparate impact to minorities caught with small amounts of weed versus Whites...at the minimum that should call for a moratorium on criminalization of small possession cases.

    We know it clogs up the judicial system with cases so bigger felonies where the public good or safety is threaten isn't given full consideration. Efficiency alone makes it a sound argument. I don't always agree with Wells but at least I understand his logic.

  • truth hurts

    Finally, the Council is going to do something right. Hey Yvette, we don't need your vote anyway.

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  • Typical DC BS

    It's about time for common sense regarding marijuana to prevail. Decriminalize it, tax the hell out of it like cigarrettes and sell it.

  • SE DC

    Alexander is dumb. Evidence proves young Blacks are the target of petty marijuana charges. Ward 7 has the most Black youth in DC, yet their councilwoman doesn't see the importance of the decriminalization. To me this screams that she wants to continue to hold Black Youth back.

    I was arrested at 19 for having less than a gram of marijuana -- took 6 months to get it expunged. A damn shame. I am now 5 years older... a college grad and in grad school, so it didn't hold me back. BUT i know the same is not true for the majority of young people arrested for simple possession.

    It is a shame!


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