Last Sunday’s Washington Post included an editorial supporting civil fines for marijuana use, particularly in D.C. The article comes after a similar proposal to the D.C. Council and support from Mayor Vincent Gray. The proposal would remove criminal penalties associated with possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine. After considering public opinion polls, a report by the ACLU, and criminal justice statistics, the Post agrees: possessing marijuana should not make you a criminal.
An all-around better policy, long championed by District lawyer Paul Zukerberg, would be to slap small-time users with a civil fine, which is a measured way to send a message that the government does not condone or tolerate marijuana use. No one’s life would be permanently marred by getting caught with a joint.
Of all the official reactions to changing mores on marijuana, decriminalization is the best.
While we know that simple decriminalization will not solve the problems caused by keeping the marijuana market illegal, the fact that such a major newspaper is coming around is a sure sign of progress.