Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced in Washingtin, DC

Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced in Washingtin, DC

WASHINGTON, DC — A bill that would legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults over 21 and set up a system of regulated marijuana commerce was introduced in the District of Columbia city council Tuesday.

Filed by Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), the bill would give regulatory authority to the DC Alcoholic Beverages Regulation Administration.

The bill comes on the heels of a decriminalization bill introduced in July by Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward Six). That bill would eliminate criminal penalties for the possession of up to an ounce of weed by adults and replace them with a maximum $100 fine.

The proposals appear to reflect public opinion in the nation’s capital. An April Public Policy Polling survey that found 75% of District voters support decriminalization and more than 60% would support a tax, regulate, and legalize initiative similar to those that passed in Colorado and Washington last year.

The same poll found a solid majority (54%) in favor of decriminalizing the possession of all drugs.

The release in June of an American Civil Liberties Union report on racial disparities in marijuana arrests has only upped the pressure. That report found that DC residents are arrested for marijuana possession at a higher rate than the residents of any state and that black DC residents are arrested at a rate far higher than white ones.

Councilmembers are looking over their shoulders as they move on marijuana law reform. DC activists emboldened by the local polling numbers as well as broader national trends are contemplating an initiative next year if the council fails to act.

“Marijuana prohibition has disproportionately criminalized black and brown people and wasted scarce law enforcement resources,” said Grant Smith, policy manager with the Drug Policy Alliance Office of National Affairs. “Following the introduction of marijuana decriminalization legislation by Councilmember Tommy Wells, Councilmember David Grosso’s proposal to tax and regulate marijuana will enhance efforts to provide District residents with relief from prohibitionist policies that have failed to curb the availability of marijuana to young people. Our nation’s Capital would be wise to follow Colorado and Washington,” said Smith.

Smith also pushed elected officials to not stop with ending marijuana prohibition.

“As Councilmembers look to end marijuana possession arrests, they should also consider the broad human and fiscal toll that decades of failed drug prohibition has wrought on District residents,” he said. “Ultimately, drug use is most effectively addressed as a health issue instead of as a criminal justice issue — and this means that a person should not be criminalized for possession of any drug in DC.”

  • Freedom and safety

    Drugs shouldn’t be prohibited because they are dangerous. Drugs should be regulated because they are dangerous. Drug prohibition is de facto deregulation, hands the market and regulation over to violent criminals, and subsidizes criminals and terrorists with unheard of profits. What other dangerous activities would you like to deregulate? Cars? Surgery? Planes? No air bags, seat belts, speed limits? No doctors licenses? No air traffic control?

    Prohibiting consensual activities in which money exchanges hands creates crime and violence. Ending prohibition will end our crime and violence problem. It won’t end our drug problem because our drug problem is not a crime and violence problem until we make it one. Our drug problem is a public health problem which can only be addressed by family, religious affiliation, health care, and education.

  • Freedom and safety

    Prohibiting consensual adult activity dismantles the judicial system by criminalizing the innocent and absolving the state of the burden of proof that a crime has been committed. The function of judicial system is to prosecute crimes, not to regulate harms. When you use the wrong tool for the job you damage the tool and you damage the job.

  • Freedom and safety

    Police must work in concert with society to protect us. When we make crimes out of consensual activities the police must treat society at large as the enemy, shred the constitution and bill of rights in order to investigate these crimes that are not crimes. This has created if not greatly exacerbated the rift between police and African American communities.

    When you use the wrong tool for the job you damage the tool and you damage the job.

  • david

    Prohibition worked so well in the past to make certain people rich only to fail. What have we learned from history ? I’m a 49 year old retired goverment employee that’s had a heart attack that resulted in four stents , ruptured appendix and numerous ruptured disks in my back. Recently I quit taking all the drugs prescribed to me legally and I now know how it feels to come off those drugs.
    I have smoked marijuana since I was fourteen , it helps me now in my old age. Im not sure how much it cost tax payers to keep me in jail, but if they wish to arrest me and take care of my health care, feed me and house me then so be it. Hell theres better pot in jail.
    If I hear one m8re person say it’s a gateway drug I believe I will puke. I have been emailing coungress, senate, the govenor and oh yes the president. The responses are so ridiculous that it sad, you see I live in the great state of South Carolina , the bible belt run by babtist and the good ole boy network in government. I do believe it’s time to move.

  • Jeff Johnson

    I love that alternative news sources are here to report the news from other angles. But misspelling Washington in the byline probably isn’t helping the cause much….

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