The District of Columbia Council has approved legislation that would give the nation's capital one of the most relaxed marijuana possession laws in the country.
Said bill, which passed by a vote of 10 to 1, would remove criminal penalties for the possession of one ounce of marijuana or less and treat possession as a civil offense.
The bill's next stop on its legislative journey is the desk of District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray who has articulated support for marijuana decriminalization in his municipality.
Although Mayor Gray is likely to use his pen wielding hand to sign the bill into law, it won't be official until Congress has completed a federally mandated legislative review that may stretch deep into the summer months.
The success of this legislation isn't just a triumph for tokers residing in D.C. due to the fact that the bill is viewed by both council members and pro-marijuana advocates as a model for other jurisdictions looking to reduce racial disparities that unfortunately runs ramped throughout the criminal justice system.
"For far too long, people of color have been disproportionately and unfairly arrested and marginalized for marijuana possession in the District of Columbia," Grant Smith, policy manager with the Drug Policy Alliance explained. "D.C. Council members took the first critical step today toward ending the selective enforcement of marijuana prohibition policies that have perpetuated racial disparities in the criminal justice system for decades."
If the bill successfully traverses the gauntlet of legislative scrutiny, those caught in possession of 28 grams of marijuana or less will be subjected to a $25 civil fine as well as having to forfeit the marijuana and any paraphernalia used to consume or carry it.
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