D.C. Pot Decriminalization Takes Effect, but Don’t Bring Bud to Capitol Hill

by Hannah Hess, Roll Call
July 17, 2014

Despite House Republican attempts to derail decriminalization, marijuana possession becomes a civil offense in the District of Columbia on Thursday, punishable by a $25 fine.

“The government is prepared,” said Pedro Ribeiro, chief spokesman for Mayor Vincent Gray, said in an interview. “We’re ready for this to go into effect.”

On language blocking the District from lessening its drug penalties that was included in an appropriations bill that cleared the House Wednesday on a 228-195 vote, Ribeiro said, “We don’t believe that it will be a problem.”

Bringing bud to the Capitol, and on other federal property, however, can still land you behind bars.

Capitol Police say laws passed by the D.C. Council cannot alter federal law or decriminalize the possession, use, or distribution of marijuana for federal law enforcement purposes.

“Therefore, despite the implementation of the [local law], the possession, use, or distribution of marijuana on Capitol Grounds and other areas within the USCP extended jurisdiction may result in arrest and criminal prosecution pursuant to federal drug laws,” said Lt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the department, in an email.

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