Pubdate: Wed, 05 Mar 2014
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
Copyright: 2014 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc
Author: Aaron C. Davis, Washington Post
Page: A7


Jail Time Would Be Replaced With a Fine.

WASHINGTON - Consuming marijuana in a private home will no longer be a
criminal offense in the nation's capital under a measure that passed
the D.C. Council on Tuesday and that instantly escalated a simmering
national debate over loosening marijuana laws.

Mayor Vincent Gray intends to sign the measure, a spokesman said,
putting district drug law in conflict with federal law, and sending
the bill to Congress, which has veto authority over Washington laws
but has organized to override only three times since 1979.

National advocates for marijuana legalization celebrated the 10-1 vote
by the D.C. Council, expressing confidence that a divided Congress
would fail to act to upend it, and that the vote might reflect growing
mainstream support for recreational use of the drug.

Under the law, the district would not go as far as Colorado and
Washington state, where voters have legalized the sale and use of
marijuana. Instead, the measure would put the district at the
forefront of 17 states that have taken the partial measure to
decriminalize marijuana, eliminating jail time for most offenses in
favor of civil fines.

In the district, the fine for possession of up to one ounce of
marijuana would be $25, the smallest penalty of any state but Alaska.
The bill would also equate smoking marijuana in public to toting an
open can of beer; a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of $500 and up
to six months in jail.
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