Yesterday, carrying cannabis in America’s capital city meant you could go to jail. Today, it means you’re less of a criminal than a litterer.
When the clock struck midnight on July 17, 2014 (last night), Washington D.C. changed forever. The nation’s capital has officially decriminalized cannabis, and D.C.’s police forth can no longer arrest anyone possessing under an ounce of marijuana.
Instead, starting today, individuals carrying pot will be met with a mere $25 fine–or $50 less than the $75 someone who litters is fined in the District of Columbia. Considering that the smell of cannabis no longer even warrants a cop search, people in D.C. will have to be wearing a nugstache or handing out free weed to receive a fine.
But it remains ill-advised to attempt to spark a joint at the White House: public consumption still can equal a $500 fine and time behind bars. There’s only one catch:
Among the vagaries of decriminalization is that federal law enforcement agencies such as the U.S. Park Police, Secret Service and Capitol Police may still arrest anyone carrying any amount of marijuana under federal drug statutes. [Washington Post]
That law remains the case in any state with decriminalized cannabis, yet these instances are extremely rare. Thus, the District’s denizens can finally feel comfortable and free to walk around with pot in their pockets, even if they must still smoke it in private (and purchase it off the black market).
Likewise, today marks a monumental day for D.C., which joins 16 current decriminalized marijuana states (Maryland joins them in the fall).
Right under the nose of Congress, marijuana reform is thriving.
The full law’s official wording, via NORML states that:
“The Simple Possession of Small Quantities of Marijuana Decriminalization Amendment Act” measure amends District law involving the possession or transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (formerly punishable by up to 6 months incarceration and a maximum fine of $1,000) to a civil violation (punishable by a $25.00 fine, no arrest, no jail time, and no criminal record).
Nearly a year ago, Washington D.C. began it’s limited medical marijuana program. Now, activists in the District are pushing for more reform: full legalization.
Every day, it seems like another state or city progresses its antiquated marijuana policies. We’re living in a new, evolving America and you’ve got to admit, it’s getting better for weed all the time.
One more time:
Marijuana Possession: $25