The District's law decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana went into effect today. While Councilmember Grosso continues to push for full legalization, with taxation and regulation, he certainly supports the important step we took today. Here is some helpful information prepared by the office of Councilmember Tommy Wells about the new law and what it means. Please contact our office with any questions.
Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014
Effective July 17, 2014
Decriminalization is not legalization. The use and possession of marijuana remains illegal, but possession of 1 ounce or less will now be treated as a civil offense, not a crime. Individuals caught with 1 ounce or less of marijuana will be fined $25 and will have all visible marijuana and paraphernalia confiscated.
What is no longer a criminal violation?
- Possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana.
- Transfer of 1 ounce or less of marijuana to another person, so long as there is no payment made or any other type of exchange of goods or services.
- ·Possession of marijuana-related drug paraphernalia (such as bongs, cigarette rolling papers, and cigar wrappers) associated with the use of 1 ounce or less of marijuana.
What happens when an individual is found with 1 ounce or less?
- The individual will receive a $25 ticket; and
- Any visible marijuana or paraphernalia will be seized.
What is still a criminal violation?
- Possession of more than 1 ounce;
- Selling any amount of marijuana to another person;
- Smoking or consuming marijuana in public;
- Driving or operating a vehicle or a boat while impaired;
- Refusing to provide an officer with one’s name and address (however, there is no requirement to carry or display proof of identity).
What’s the deal with the smell of pot?
The bill states that the following factors, individually or in combination with each other, will not provide a law enforcement officer with reasonable articulable suspicion of a crime:
- The odor of marijuana or burnt marijuana;
- The possession of or the suspicion of possession of marijuana without evidence of quantity in excess of one ounce;
- The possession of multiple containers of marijuana without evidence of quantity in excess of once ounce; and
- The possession of marijuana without evidence of quantity in excess of one ounce in proximity to any amount of cash or currency.
The odor provision was included because if the possession or private use of marijuana is no longer a crime, then the smell of marijuana alone would not be evidence of a crime. However, these provisions do not apply when an officer is investigating whether a person is operating or in physical control of a vehicle or a boat while intoxicated, under the influence of, or impaired by alcohol or drugs.
What about the federal law enforcement agencies?
- Federal law continues to prohibit the possession or use of any amount of marijuana.
- Federal law enforcement officers may arrest anyone in D.C. for possession or use of any amount of marijuana as a violation of federal law.
- Prosecutions for federal law violations would be done by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.
Where do I get more information?
- LIMS: http://lims.dccouncil.us/Legislation/B20-0409 and click on Bill History for the committee report, amendments, and the enrolled bill.
- The MPD marijuana page mentioned above: http://mpdc.dc.gov/marijuana includes a similar FAQ, as well as links to the Special Order the Department has issued to its officers and the palm card MPD is distributing to the public.