WASHINGTON (WJZ)–It’s now legal to light up a joint in the nation’s capital. Possessing and using small amounts of marijuana in D.C. is no longer a crime.
Alex DeMetrick reports, the new marijuana law is under a cloud that could be blowing Maryland’s way.
Congress controls much of what D.C. is allowed to do, but now it’s reaching out with a threat to D.C.’s mayor and city council.
“I have a lot of things to do here in the District of Columbia with me being in jail wouldn’t be a good thing,” said Muriel Bowser Mayor of Washington D.C.
For carrying out the will of D.C. voters who overwhelming approved legalizing adults to hold and use up to two ounces of marijuana and half a dozen plants.
Now about that threat.
“It’s up to two years prison time, you lose your job, there’s fines involved,” said Rep. Andy Harris.
That’s the language Maryland Republican Andy Harris drafted into a congressional law to stop D.C.’s pot legalization.
And even if court challenges slow the threat down, “Statute of limitations is five years on this. So these government officials who are taking a chance right now, if they institute legalization, they’re going to be looking over their shoulders for the next five years,” Harris said.
What’s legal today in D.C., is currently being considered in Maryland. A bill before the state legislature would make it legal for those over 21 to have up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants.
And like Colorado, Maryland would tax pot sales.
“Why shouldn’t the state of Maryland benefit, as opposed to some black market dealer,” said Del. Curt Anderson.
A Maryland law was signed last year, making small amounts of pot subject to a civil fine, not a criminal charge, but it wasn’t without resistance.
And those opposed to legalizing marijuana in Maryland, think D.C.’s law will attract the state’s minors, just as the district’s former 18-year old drinking law once did.
“It’s going to be a mess, a very serious problem were going to have to deal with in Maryland.”
But for now D.C.’s mayor says the city won’t be bullied by Congress, which insists its threat, is not just blowing smoke.
If D.C.’s elected leaders do face prosecution, it can’t come from Congress. It would have to be carried out by the U.S. Department of Justice.