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Littering Fine ($75) More Expensive Than Pot Fine ($25) In Nation’s Capital

 

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Lawmakers in Washington DC recently passed the law that states, “possession of an ounce of marijuana as a non-arrestable civil infraction with a nation’s-lowest fine of just $25. Congress has final say over all laws passed in the District, but let the deadline pass for the decrim law without comment, which takes effect on Thursday.”

A recent guest on The National Marijuana News, Rep. Andy Harris, attached an amendment to an appropriations bill that prevents the District from using any of its local funds to implement marijuana law reforms. Its primary intent appears to be the blocking of the decriminalization law, while also forestalling endeavors to completely legalize marijuana via petition

The Huff Post Comments:

“The Obama administration believes marijuana policy is a states’ rights issue, the White House said Monday in opposing Republican-led legislation that would prevent Washington, D.C., from using federal funds to decriminalize marijuana possession.

The GOP-sponsored 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.”

An in-depth article on The WeedBlog States:

“The Administration strongly opposes the language in the bill preventing the District from using its own local funds to carry out locally-passed marijuana policies,” the administration admonishes in its Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 5016, “which again undermines the principles of States’ rights and of District home rule. Furthermore, the language poses legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Department’s enforcement of all marijuana laws currently in force in the District.”

That last part refers to the unintended consequence of Rep. Harris’ ham-fisted attempt to stop decriminalization from happening. His amendment would bar the District from spending money on marijuana reforms, but not arresting people doesn’t cost a dime. It is conceivable that Rep. Harris’ amendment would mean District Police couldn’t write the $25 ticket for pot possession and the courts couldn’t process the tickets even if they were written, since all of those activities cost salaries and printing costs.

Another indication of how far marijuana reform has come in some Washington DC circles is that the memo chastises Harris’ amendment for restricting the District from using local funds for abortion services for the same “States’ rights” reasoning as marijuana reform. In five years, we’ve gone from President Obama chuckling that “I don’t know what that says about the online audience” when they rate marijuana legalization as a top priority in online polls to the president giving it the same political gravitas as the abortion rights issue.

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Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe is a 14-year veteran of the financial sector with licenses as a commodity broker (Series 3) and investment advisor representative (IAR Series 65). Along with a focus on raising capital for the firms he was employed with, he also wrote and edited much of the content published by them. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. He has been a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization due to the social injustices associated with marijuana prohibition and the strong potential for the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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