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D.C. Council approves a watered-down version of the marijuana decriminalization bill

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Not having found the actual legislative language in other articles, yesterday I researched online and blogged about today’s District of Columbia City Council vote on a proposed bill to make marijuana possession subject to a civil fine. A hallmark part of the legislation was to prohibit police from stopping and searching people smoking marijuana, in an effort to reduce racial disparities disfavoring African Americans with marijuana arrests in the city.

Today, all but one city councilmember voted for marijuana decriminalization legislation that would make simple marijuana possession only subject to a civil fine, but only after keeping public smoking of marijuana as a criminal offense (but for less than the current six-month statutory jail maximum), after the mayor (and I think police chief Kathy Lanier) expressed concern whether increased public marijuana smoking would result from making such activity no longer a crime.

As I understand it, today’s vote was not a final one. Another vote is needed to finalize the legislation. Also, the District of Columbia’s being a territory oppressed by full federal taxation without full voting representation in Congress, any marijuana legislation will face the thumbs up or down from the appropriate federal Congressional committee before it can become law.

To have marijuana as extensively decriminalized as today’s passed City Council measure will be a great inroad towards federal legislative action to decriminalize not only marijuana, but hopefully all other drugs. Also, if passed, such a measure will effectively make it easier for people needing marijuana as medicine to self-medicate without worrying as much about being penalized for doing so.