Ward 6 D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells‘ marijuana decriminalization bill earned nine other backers at today’s D.C. Council mega-hearing. That means there could be a Council majority for an inevitable vote on the bill, which would replace criminal penalties for possession of less than an ounce of pot with a $100 fine.
The bill, which would also legalize marijuana smoking accessories, also earned the support of Washington’s NAACP chapter. If passed, the bill would address the District’s racial disparity in marijuana enforcement—-an ACLU study last month found that black Washingtonians were far more likely to be arrested for possession than a white resident. Wells is aiming to have a vote on the bill by the end of the year.
Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier, though, isn’t a fan. In a statement released this afternoon, Lanier called for a “robust discussion” on the bill and kicked that discussion off herself. She’s got a host of concerns about the bill: Will decriminalization make more kids get high? Will it make pot plants stronger? The chief’s just asking!
Wells also hasn’t won over colleague Yvette Alexander, who says she opposes decriminalization and legalization. “I say if it’s illegal, keep it against the law,” Alexander tells LL.
Cannabis photo via Shutterstock