Mon., March 31, 2014 6:00pm (EDT)

D.C. Mayor Signs Bill Decriminalizing Some Marijuana Use
By Eyder Peralta
Updated: 4 months ago

Marijuana plants in Seattle.
Marijuana plants in Seattle.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Vince Gray signed a bill, today, that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

As we reported, the D.C. city council voted to join 16 other states in decriminalizing some use last month.

What makes D.C. interesting is that any laws passed by the local government must be reviewed by Congress and this particular bill pits local laws against federal statutes, which make any marijuana possession illegal.

NPR member station WAMU explains:

"The bill ... eliminates criminal offenses for the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. Anyone caught with marijuana under that threshold would be charged with a civil offense punishable by a $25 fine.

"Support for the measure built after a 2013 report by the ACLU found that D.C. leads the nation in marijuana arrests, and that black residents are eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts.

"The bill now goes to Capitol Hill for a 60-day congressional review. Congress rarely blocks D.C. laws, but in 1998 it did stop the city from implementing a ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana. If Congress does not formally disapprove the bill, it will take effect by the summer."

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