DC Council votes to decriminalize pot

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The D.C. Council voted 11-1 to decriminalize marijuana in the District, WUSA9's Bruce Johnson reports.

There will be a second and final reading and vote on the marijuana decriminalization bill before the entire Council as early as February 18th, officials said.

Yvette Alexander with the D.C. Council voted "no." Alexander is concerned that it looks like we are headed towards the legalization and said it's still a crime to sell but not use. Alexander also said that the feds do not recognize marijuana decriminalization and this will create a false sense that it's okay to smoke pot. It is easier to get weed so what affect will that have on medical marijuana, asked Alexander.

Tommy Wells said that 90 percent of marijuana arrests in D.C. are African Americans and that our society is not served by arresting 5,000 people for public pot smoking. More than 5,000 people are arrested annually in DC, says Wells.

Wells said, "I am extremely disappointed that my colleagues, Mayor Gray and Chief Lanier would choose to continue the pattern of injustice by supporting these amendments. I am not advocating for the use of marijuana in public or private, but an end to the criminalization and disenfranchisement of majoritively African American D.C. residents. We need to end the disproportionate impact of marijuana arrests that keep our residents from job, higher education and housing opportunities. I will continue working with my colleagues in advance of our next vote to get this bill right."

Council member Marion Barry was not present at the meeting.


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