washington dc marijuana decriminalization
Ending Marijuana Prohibition

Republicans May Block Washington, D.C. Marijuana Decriminalization

washington dc marijuana decriminalizationRepublicans may offer an amendment to a federal appropriations bill this morning that would prevent the District of Columbia from implementing the marijuana decriminalization law recently passed by the D.C. City Council and signed into law by the mayor in March. The amendment would prohibit spending federal funds or even its locally raised funds to carry out any law, rule or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce criminal penalties for marijuana.

Advocates decry this possible attempt by Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee that would interfere and potentially block efforts by D.C. lawmakers to eliminate racial disparities that have long persisted in the enforcement of D.C.’s marijuana laws.

“D.C. lawmakers recently decriminalized marijuana possession because the people of the District of Columbia demanded an end to the disproportionate arrest of African Americans for small amounts of marijuana,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. policy manager with the Drug Policy Alliance. “Any effort by Congress that would block D.C.’s efforts to reform its marijuana laws denies the people of the Nation’s Capital the democratic right to pursue racial and social justice.”

The underlying bill that could be amended with this amendment will be marked up at 10am on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in 2359 Rayburn House Office Building.

The “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014” is comprehensive legislation that was passed 10-1 by the D.C. City Council earlier this year. It eliminates the threat of arrest for possessing marijuana and ensure that people are no longer saddled with life-long convictions that make it difficult to obtain employment and housing. Instead of arresting people, the bill would impose a $25 civil fine for possession as well as forfeiture of the marijuana and any paraphernalia used to consume or carry it.

This new law is viewed by both council members and advocates as a model for other jurisdictions looking to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system. By setting a $25 fine, which is the lowest civil fine for possession among seventeen states that have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, Councilmembers cited the need to be responsive to social factors such as homelessness in the District and high rates of poverty in Wards that have seen the greatest number of marijuana arrests.

In accordance with federal law, the legislation was transmitted by the D.C. Council to Congress for a period of time for review. If Congress does not take action on the legislation then it is expected to become law in the District of Columbia next month.

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation

  • Sarijuana

    I can see how they could block federal funds from being used, but blocking the use of locally collected funds seems sketchy. But DC isn’t protected by “state’s rights”, so I hope they can cope.

  • acidsex

    They fucking blocked it. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/house-republicans-block-funding-for-dc-marijuana-decriminalization/2014/06/25/d6854ba8-fc6e-11e3-8176-f2c941cf35f1_story.html

    House Republicans on Wednesday blocked funding for a new D.C. law that would have eliminated criminal penalties for possessing marijuana, leaving the fate of the measure up to budget negotiations between the House and Senate.

    The move is a defeat to D.C. lawmakers who had argued that ending jail time was necessary to combat deep racial disparity in drug sentencing in the nation’s capital.

    The effort to halt the measure was led by Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland’s only Republican in Congress.

    Maryland recently joined 17 other states in passing a law to eliminate jail time for marijuana possession. But Harris argued that the D.C. law was “bad policy,” assessing a fine of just $25 for pot possession and not requiring teens to attend drug treatment.

    • webpiercing

      They have to keep those privatized prisons in business ya know.

  • ted mishler

    I fail to see why war minded savages that believe the constitution is only for them believe that the cannabis community needs punishment with fines etc.
    Is not there something the president could do to end all the mischief the instigators of punishment inflict, they are liken to bullies, there is no honor

    I well, for spite, I will order me some hash, and toke it in spite of what the horrid peace haters say.
    :-)

  • Scott Eaton

    May ? That’s an under statement…….The plan is to block it

    • acidsex

      Actually they did block it. They carried their plan out.

  • webpiercing

    Republicans remind me of spoiled little rich kids throwing a tantrum. They don’t like something even if it’s voted in just keep doing everything they can to get their own way.

  • WALLACE

    I like small government.. If you are as well, vote libertarian.