Budget autonomy plaintiff Phil Mendelson
Budget autonomy plaintiff Phil Mendelson

Ward 6 councilmember and mayoral hopeful Tommy Wells‘ marijuana decriminalization bill has enjoyed an easy ride through the D.C. Council so far, but that could change at tomorrow’s Council meeting. Chairman Phil Mendelson has prepared an amendment that, if it’s passed, could cause Wells to stop supporting his own bill.

Mendelson’s amendment would leave smoking marijuana in public as a misdemeanor offense, according to Mendelson chief of staff Denise Tolliver. The current language in Wells’ bill would make smoking the drug in public subject to a $100 fine.

Wells, who says it’d be “embarrassing” to vote for a bill that leaves getting high in public a crime, says he could be forced to oppose his legislation if Mendelson’s amendment succeeds. Mendelson’s position as Council chair makes it easier for him to sway other councilmembers to back his change to the bill, Wells says.

Mendelson’s amendment aims to put smoking marijuana in public on par with an open container offense, but Wells says it’s unfair to compare the two because of the different effects they have on the body. The friendly herb, Wells says, is exactly that.

“From what I understand, it has a mellowing effect,” Wells says.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery