Washington D.C. councilmember David Grosso introduced a bill yesterday that would legalize the possession and sales of limited amounts of cannabis in the nation’s capitol to adults 21 and over.
The bill would remove all criminal and civil penalties for the possession of an ounce or less of cannabis.
Grosso and fellow councilmember Tommy Wells have been vocal supporters of marijuana law reform. Both have pointed out the severe racial disparity between blacks and whites arrested for cannabis possession in the city.
Decriminalization proposals have also been submitted in recent months to help address that problem. Grosso says his legalization bill will seek to do the same.
“Councilmember David Grosso’s proposal to tax and regulate marijuana will enhance efforts to provide District residents with relief from prohibitionist policies that have failed to curb the availability of marijuana to young people. Our nation’s Capital would be wise to follow Colorado and Washington,” said Grant Smith, Drug Policy Alliance spokesman in a press release.
According to an April poll conducted by the DPA, sixty percent of D.C. voters said they would support a legalization measure similar to measures passed last year by Washington and Colorado voters.
As we mentioned last week, the bill may be the right move for the city and may have broad voter support- but that doesn’t mean it will become law. Washington D.C. laws have to be approved by Congress. As Grosso told the Washington Times, “I’m not holding my breath this year, but I’m hoping to get the debate out there. If we’re going to have alcohol legal in this country, I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t have marijuana legal.”
Marijuana possession is a criminal misdemeanor charge in D.C. with up to six months incarceration and $1,000 in fines. Cultivation and distribution are both unclassified criminal offenses with between six months and five years in jail and $1,000 to $50,000 in fines.