Earlier this year, the Washington D.C. Council voted to decriminalize marijuana. The vote made possession of up to one ounce of marijuana an infraction instead of a crime, carrying a $25 penalty. The decriminalization measure required United States congressional review, which was rough. But, despite attempts to derail marijuana decriminalization in Washington D.C. by some members of Congress, the decriminalization measure is set to take effect this Thursday.
United States House of Representative Andy Harris (Maryland) has led the charge to try to derail the process. This has led to a request from Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray for D.C. residents to boycott tourist areas that Representative Harris represents. Per The New York Times:
“He is interfering with democracy in this city, and we want people to understand how we feel about it,” the mayor said in an interview. He pointed out that Maryland, like the district, decriminalized marijuana this year, and if the congressman, Representative Andy Harris, had been in the legislature, he would have been outvoted.
The battle to decriminalize marijuana possession in Washington D.C. highlights the struggle to reform harmful marijuana laws, and how some members of Congress refuse to let go of failed prohibition policies. Washington D.C. approved medical marijuana a long, long time ago. However, due to prevention of funding by Congress, implementation of the medical marijuana program in D.C. wasn’t completed until fairly recently. Washington D.C. residents are likely to vote on marijuana legalization this November during the 2014 Election. If passed, I hope members of Congress respect the will of the voters, instead of pursuing yet another showdown between members of Congress and D.C..