WASHINGTON – Possession of less than one ounce of marijuana would no longer be a criminal offense in the nation's capital under a bill approved by the D.C. Council.
If the bill becomes law, the District of Columbia would join the 17 states that have decriminalized pot possession. Mayor Vincent Gray plans to sign measure, and Congress is not expected to intervene.
Smoking marijuana in public would still be illegal, and the law would not apply on federal property such as the National Mall. The council approved it Tuesday by a 10-1 vote.
Proponents say the decriminalization bill is one of the nation's strongest and would reduce racial disparities in drug arrests. Civil fines for possession would be $25, and police wouldn't be allowed to search someone just because they smell marijuana.