DC Decriminalizes Pot – Obama Tells Feds To Not Interfere with States’ Rights Issue

For Washington, D.C. residents caught with marijuana, the penalty is now a $25 fine, similarly to littering. Unless its on Washington, D.C.’s abundance of federal land where marijuana possession still carries a hefty penalty.

Passed by the D.C. City Council in March, the decriminalization law significantly reduces the penalty for small-scale possession, which previously included fines of up to $1,000 and potential jail time.

Washington, D.C. is even considering complete legalization. In a place where there is plenty of federal land, including places like the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial, marijuana possession is still federal crime. At a House of Representatives hearing in May 2013, Robert MacLean, acting chief of the United States Park Police, stated that people carrying marijuana on federal land could face up to six months in jail and a fine of $5,000.

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“People are completely unaware of those lines and those consequences,” D.C. resident Damon McCollough told Newsweek.

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The Obama Administration said that the feds shouldn’t interfere with state’s rights. Obama said he opposes a Republican-sponsored bill that would do just that in Washington, D.C.

The House amendment would prevent D.C. “from using its own local funds to carry out locally-passed marijuana policies, which again undermines the principles of States’ rights and of District home rule,” the White House said in a statement. The White House said the bill “poses legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Department’s enforcement of all marijuana laws currently in force in the District.”

The federal government also has decided not to pursue litigation against Washington state and Colorado where recreational marijuana is legal. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he is “cautiously optimistic” about Colorado’s legalization efforts.

“It is great to see the White House accepting that a majority of Americans want marijuana law reform and defending the right of D.C. and states to set their own marijuana policy,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “The tide has clearly shifted against the failed war on drugs and it’s only a matter of time before federal law is changed.”

But it’s not only Republicans who are trying to stop drug decriminalization laws.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein opposes Congressman Rohrabacher’s amendment that would put a stop to Federal medical marijuana raids in Oakland.

“While I support the compassionate use of medical marijuana when prescribed by a physician for certain serious illnesses, I also have concerns about youth marijuana use and rogue dispensaries. I am especially concerned about the proliferation of violence and devastating environmental impacts associated with marijuana grown on public lands and agricultural land in California, specifically in the Central Valley. For this reason I support federal efforts to investigate and prosecute the illegal dispensaries and cultivation sites – efforts that this amendment could prevent.”

Despite the differing views from both Parties, Cory Booker and Sen. Rand Paul are leading a bi-partisan effort to introduce common sense legislation to change the failed war-on-drugs.


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