Although Washington D.C. is our nation’s Capitol, and it’s the place where the laws that dictate weed as federally illegal are originated, the District of Columbia itself actually operates (more or less) as a state. And since it’s up to the states to make their own rules where marijuana is concerned, it might not come as a surprise to you that D.C. is straying away from the laws of the Land and leaning a little more West.
Just yesterday, in fact, Washington D.C.’s officials voted to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. While there is still a strong difference between “legal” and “decriminalized”, supporters of legalization generally see decriminalization as a step in the right direction toward minimizing the penalties associated with pot. In terms of the way the laws read in cases of decriminalization, jail time is replaced by fines for people that are caught in possession of specified (small) amounts of the plant.
Growing, cultivating, selling, and smoking are still punishable by harsher results, although in many cases, these punishments may become less strict than they originally were, as well. Being caught with an ounce or less of weed on a person, once this is officially put into place, will result in a $25 fine, which is basically the same as any other minor ticket. Those persons caught smoking pot in public will face penalties that are modeled after the punishments that are inflicted on people caught with open containers of alcohol; it is a misdemeanor that can come with a $500 fine or up to six months in jail.
In other areas of the country, legalization and decriminalization have been more focused on marijuana than they have around underlying issues (at least, expressly). In Washington D.C., it seems that this movement is expressly pointed in the other direction. That is to say, race seems to be a big motivating factor to legalize/ decriminalize (or not, depending on which side of the argument you stand on). Of course, 420 Portal doesn’t get into those kinds of politics, but we do find it an interesting topic.