Moments ago, the Washington, D.C. City Council voted to decriminalize marijuana possession!
The measure removes criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for individuals 18 years of age and older and replaces them with a civil fine of $25, similar to a parking ticket. It also removes penalties for possession of paraphernalia in conjunction with small amounts of marijuana, and it specifies that individuals cannot be searched or detained based solely on an officer’s suspicion of marijuana possession. Public use of marijuana would remain a criminal offense punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a criminal offense punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
The bill goes into effect this summer.
This means that, outside of Washington and Colorado, marijuana penalties are now less punitive in our nation’s capital than anywhere else in the country.
Washington, D.C. has the nation’s highest arrest rate for marijuana possession, according to a report released in June by the American Civil Liberties Union. Blacks accounted for 91% of marijuana possession arrests in the District, and they were eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, despite using marijuana at similar rates. The ACLU’s analysis concluded that enforcing marijuana possession laws, which make up nearly half of all drug offenses, costs the District more than $26.5 million per year. Hopefully, this new bill will have an immediate impact on this injustice.
On March 1, MPP officially began lobbying for marijuana policy reform directly in the Texas legislature. Over the next several years, we will be working with supportive lawmakers and local advocates to remove the threat of jail for simple possession of marijuana, and eventually end marijuana prohibition altogether in the Lone Star State.
The Kentucky House Health and Welfare Committee made history today when it voted 9-5 in favor of HB 350, the “Cannabis Compassion Act.” This is the first time a Kentucky legislative committee has ever voted to approve an effective medical marijuana bill.
Sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville), a registered nurse, HB 350 would provide safe, legal access to medical marijuana for patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS. Qualifying patients would be able to possess up to three ounces at a time and grow up to 12 plants per patient. The bill would also establish safety compliance facilities and would permit one medical marijuana compassion center for every 100,000 residents to ensure safe and reliable access for patients.
This is great progress, but we can’t stop here. The addition of four dispensaries has dramatically improved access for patients, and over 1,000 patients have now registered for Vermont’s program. But there are still a number of issues with Vermont’s medical marijuana law that need to be addressed, including an absurd restriction that only 1,000 Vermont patients may be served by dispensaries.
Sen. Jeanette White
We are currently urging Vermont legislators to pass S. 247, which would eliminate the 1,000-patient cap and make other positive changes to Vermont’s medical marijuana law. Sponsored by Senator Jeanette White (D), S. 247would authorize the Department of Public Safety to license two additional dispensaries. It would also allow dispensaries to deliver marijuana to patients, and it would allow naturopaths to certify patients for the program.
S. 247has already been approved by two Senate committees, and a vote is expected soon by the full Senate.
Alaska is on its way to becoming the third state in the nation to end marijuana prohibition!
Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell announced yesterday that an initiative to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older and regulate it like alcohol has officially qualified for the August 19 primary ballot. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska now has less than six months to campaign in support of the measure.
A poll conducted earlier this month found 55% of Alaska voters think it’s time to make marijuana legal and regulate it like alcohol. But victory is far from guaranteed, so it’s critical that the campaign raise money right now to build a strong coalition, mobilize supporters across the state, and run ads in August.