D.C. Council weakens bill to decriminalize marijuana, keeps smoking in public a crime
The D.C. Council voted to eliminate criminal penalties for possession of marijuana on Tuesday, but left smoking of marijuana a crime, splintering an effort to have the District join the quarter of U.S. states that have fully decriminalized marijuana.
The 11-1 decision by the D.C. Council came as D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray warned that removing the threat of jail time could lead to widespread public smoking of the drug.
Instead, the D.C. Council voted to make possession of the drug a civil offense, akin to a parking ticket, but to keep smoking in public a crime, with a reduced maximum jail sentence of 60 days instead of six months.
“I do not want the public smoking of marijuana around my kid — I do not,” said Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), raising his voice to press his point. “I do not want to have to somehow rationalize to her why that’s ok … and I dare say that I’m not alone as a parent.”