BALTIMORE (WJZ)– As of today it is no longer a crime to possess small amounts of marijuana in Washington D.C. But as political reporter Pat Warren reports, this decriminalization could be short-lived if a Maryland lawmaker gets his way.
Washington D.C. police have added a new check box to the same ticket they write for littering; possession of marijuana. Possession of an ounce or less is now a $25 fine, one of the lowest in the country.
In Maryland this year lawmakers decided to decriminalize ten grams or less, with fines up to $100 for a first offense, and no criminal record.
Ironically, it’s a Maryland lawmaker who wants to derail the D.C. plan.
“Our constitution is very specific on how the federal enclave of the District of Columbia is to be treated,” said Congressman Andy Harris.
Maryland’s first district congressman Andy Harris has stirred the ire of the District with an amendment to bar D.C. from implementing the law it’s tacked to a spending bill headed to the senate.
The D.C. Police Union has raised questions about enforcement. Smelling like pot is no longer probable cause, and police cant make you show identification.
“This goes to how do i know who I’m dealing with and how do I hold those people accountable who are now breaking the law,” Harris said.
Add to that, it’s still illegal to have marijuana on federal property, like Capitol Hill.
Officer training is underway. Governor O’malley signed Maryland’s decriminalization law in April and it takes effect October 1st.
The White House has said in a statement that the Harris’ amendment to bar decriminalization in D.C. undermines state’s rights.
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