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At midnight tonight, the District’s law decriminalizing possession of less than an ounce of marijuana for personal use takes effect. Get stopped with a small amount of weed in your pocket today, and you could be facing six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. Wait until tomorrow, and you’ll pay just $25. (As the Metropolitan Police Department is taking pains to point out, smoking pot in public is still illegal, as is selling it. And don’t carry drugs on federal land!)
At Washington City Paper, we think the new law is a big improvement: For one, the vast majority of people arrested for possession of marijuana in D.C. are black, and the racial disparity in pot arrests is getting worse. For another, why should the other Washington be more progressive than we are? But we’re also curious to see how it’ll be enforced. So we’ll make an offer to the large, large numbers of people living here who have at some point possessed pot: If you get a citation under the new law, send us a picture of the citation and tell us your story, and if you’re one of the first five people we hear from at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’ll pay your $25 fine.
A couple of guidelines: We don’t need to publish your name if you don’t want us to, but we do need to know it. So send us a clear photo of the citation, and if you’d like to remain anonymous, we’ll blur out identifying details before posting anything. Let us know exactly what happened—why did the police stop you, and where? How did they find the pot? Did they confiscate it? What did they say about it, and did they seem to be aware of the new law?
Do feel free to send us tips and suggestions about how the new rules are or aren’t being enforced around the District even if you don’t wind up getting cited. And for more background on how D.C.’s drug laws are changing, read our Pot Issue from last fall.
Photo by Katheirne Hitt via Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0