D.C. Council considers decriminalizing marijuana

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - The “high” from smoking pot is different from alcohol but close enough to warrant decriminalizing it - so think a majority of D.C. city council members and a lot of pot smokers who showed up for a city council hearing on decriminalizing marijuana.

“I think marijuana should be treated like alcohol - it's super simple it's easy and it's true,” says D.C. Cannabis Campaign member Donny Williams.

Council member Tommy Wells introduced legislation which would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Those found with an ounce or less of pot would face a hundred dollar fine. Currently, D.C. makes numerous arrests for pot possession.

“D.C. is by far highest marijuana rate of any state and almost any county in the country,” says Arthur Spitzer of the American Civil Liberties Union.

A lot of people think it is time to rethink marijuana laws.

“People go out and have a drink now and then and people are going to go out and smoke pot now and then,” says Melissa Stone, a D.C. resident.

Another motivation is an apparent racial disparity in marijuana arrests and the lifelong consequences of a drug conviction.

“In 2010, the Metropolitan Police Department arrested over 5,000 young black men on small quantities of marijuana,” says D.C. Councilman Marion Barry. “Plus, if it gets on your record you never get a job.”

But in some neighborhoods where drug abuse and violence are a chronic problem, the proposal is divisive.

“I don't think we need anything else to hurt us and it's a drug,” says former district resident Daryl Jackson.