D.C. Poised for a Giant Leap toward Decriminalizing Marijuana

October 25, 2013

D.C. lawmakers took more than 15 years to allow cancer patients to use marijuana for their pain. But over just a few months, city leaders have coalesced around a plan to decriminalize small joints, blunts or bowls full of marijuana in the nation’s capital.

Ten of 13 council members have signed on to a bill to make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana punishable by a fine of no more than $100. On Wednesday, Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said for the first time that he supports the idea. And on Thursday, the author of the bill and the office of the attorney general said they could agree to an even smaller, token fine of $25.

Such a move wouldn’t go as far as changes by Colorado and Washington state, where voters have legalized marijuana. Seventeen states also have eliminated jail time for possession in favor of civil finesof up to $1,000. If the bill passes, the District would rank behind only Alaska, which has no fine, as the most forgiving.

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