D.C. Marijuana Laws Likely to Change

Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013  |  Updated 9:03 PM EDT
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Legalize it or decriminalize it?  That's the question facing district lawmakers when it comes to marijuana. Today...there's growing support to change the laws. But, as News4's Mark Segraves reports it's now a matter of what the change will be.

Mark Segraves

Legalize it or decriminalize it? That's the question facing district lawmakers when it comes to marijuana. Today...there's growing support to change the laws. But, as News4's Mark Segraves reports it's now a matter of what the change will be.

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With the majority of the D.C. Council supporting at least decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, it seems likely that the District's marijuana laws will change next year, News4's Mark Segraves reported.

The Council invited the public to testify Wednesday and Thursday on a bill that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, making it a $100 fine rather than an arrest and a criminal record.

With 90 percent of those arrested in D.C. being African-American, Council member Tommy Well said the current penalty is not fair and, considering it can prevent the violator from getting a job later, not smart.

Council member David Grosso said decriminalization will increase demand, thus increasing the street business, so he's proposing legalization.

About 75 percent of D.C. residents support decriminalization, with 64 percent supporting legalization, D.C. Cannabis Campaign Chairman Adam Eidinger said. If elected officials won't legalize it, he'll try to get it on the ballot for voters to decide.

Wells, who chairs the council's public safety committee, and Council member Marion Barry organized Wednesday's hearing at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library. It continues Thursday at the John A. Wilson Building.

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