D.C. takes step toward legalizing pot for private use
February 4th, 2014
04:06 PM ET
6 months ago

D.C. takes step toward legalizing pot for private use

(CNN) – The Washington City Council passed a measure on Tuesday that would move the District of Columbia one step closer to decriminalizing marijuana in most cases.

Members approved the bill 11-to-1 in the first of two votes likely this month.

The core proposal would decriminalize marijuana for most private uses and lower the punishment for using the drug in public in the nation's capital.

But supporters of that didn't get everything they wanted.

An amendment was added that would continue to make smoking pot in public a misdemeanor, something the measure's original supporters oppose.

All council members supported the amendment except for Tommy Wells, the Democrat who has spearheaded the decriminalization efforts.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who proposed the amendment, said he just wants to bring marijuana in line with alcohol - legal to use in private, illegal to use in public.

Despite the late change, the proposal is expected to receive final passage and become law because it has the support of a majority of and Mayor Vincent Gray.

Between now and a final vote, possibly as early as February 18, competing sides will try to iron out their differences over public use of marijuana.

The lone vote against the bill was Yvette Alexander, who broadly does not support decriminalizing marijuana.

For the council members who supported the plan, decriminalizing marijuana has become just as much about racial disparities as about sanctioning use of the drug.

"The evidence of racial disparities in D.C. arrests for marijuana is undeniable and the socioeconomic impacts on African American residents are indisputable," Wells, who is also running for mayor, said in a statement after the vote. "I am proud that we have taken this step, with support from so many on the D.C. Council, to decriminalize marijuana."

Congress may have a say in the matter, too, as it has oversight of D.C. laws.


Filed under: Washington D.C.
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Me

    Good, maybe this will effect the rest of the country, if it is legal in our capital how can any other state justify keeping it illegal??? Sad thing is, I am sure they will find a way....

    February 4, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    Hey Libertarians, another place where you can get your hemp!

    February 4, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    CBO report says GOP/Teatroll plan to kill ACA's "risk corridors" would add $8B to the deficit by destroying $16B in savings.

    CBO report LOWERS its estimates of premiums under the ACA by 15%.

    CBO report says it tripled its employment estimate from 4 years ago after reviewing new research about the ways the ACA affects labor and the economy.

    CBO reports that the reduction in NEED TO WORK will add up to about 2 million jobs worth of man hours because some people will not have to work full time or can retire on time or can reduce hours as they approach retirement or won't need to work 2 jobs instead of just 1.

    WaPo gives GOP/Teatroll mischaracterization of CBO report that claims it says the ACA will cause 2M jobs to be lost THREE PINNOCHIOS.

    What was the only thing CNN reported and what was the spin they gave it? That's right. Three pinnochios CNN...and you know exactly where you can shove his growing nose.

    February 4, 2014 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  4. Reggie53

    Well, we will be having alot zombies roaming the streets in DC....What is our country coming to now??????

    February 4, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  5. Gt

    I figured most idiots in d c use pot anyway. Crime and welfare can't get any worse..

    February 4, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. joey

    Thank god. Looks like we are finally inching our way towards sanity.

    February 4, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. Peter gelezius

    I have thought many times that some of these laws passed by the Fed,were strange,now when they can get stoned I'll know why

    February 4, 2014 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    Great news for D.C. It sucks that they're right up I95 and moving forward with decriminalizing, but it will take hell to freeze over before that EVER happens in Virginia. Hopefully with the democrat majority we now have in Virginia now, there might be a slight bit of hope.

    February 4, 2014 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. lolfail

    The intent of the war on drugs is not to keep people safe, it would make even less sense if that were the case. I think they intend to make it less available now.

    Clearly, with a US president having tried Marijuana, and countless other politicians, it is a total and complete failure that is now an unnecessary burden.

    February 4, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. just saying

    yeah, just what dc needs.... it won't be long until the smell of pot permeates the halls of congress and lingers in the oval office. what could possibly go wrong?

    February 4, 2014 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  11. Gurgyl

    --nothing wrong with it. Are you preventing Alcohol? If a guy wants he drinks–realizes it is bad, then stops it in toto. Simple. Don't Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rowe, Ann coulter, Glenn Beck smoke? Stop this idiocy.

    February 4, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  12. bassman

    Here is a news story: How many Hollywood stars that have died from a heroin overdose started by smoking pot? If we are going to have stories on gun control, we should also debate, whether or not, pot leads to harder drugs. And in turn deaths.

    February 4, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |