Washington DC Needs Online Marijuana Classes

by: Mike Miller

It is always nice when our nation's capital leads by example. If you think I am being sarcastic, you are correct.

One of the least restrictive marijuana laws in the country went into effect in the shadow of the White House in July, eliciting stern warnings from the local police but good cheer from many Washingtonians. As reported in www.nytimes.com.

There is a new District of Columbia law that reduces the penalty for having up to an ounce of marijuana to a $25 ticket. The offense is now a civil infraction. Littering carries a fine three times as high (pun intended).

What do locals think? here is one example.

“A ticket when you just have a jay or something?” said Clifford Gray, a lifelong District of Columbia resident who is in his 20s, using a slang term for a marijuana cigarette. “I’m good with that.”

What do you think of this? "When you just have to have a jay?" Seriously?

An ounce can be the equivalent of dozens of marijuana cigarettes. Possession of more than an ounce remains a crime — an acknowledgment that drug dealers are more likely than recreational users to be carrying that much — and carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Washington DC legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes in 2010.

The new law went into effect at the end of a 60-day review period, when Congress could have overruled it by a joint (no pun intended) resolution of the House and Senate — a difficult hurdle.

In the contentious Congress it should come as no surprise that this too did not get bipartisan support. House Republicans, who are unhappy with the new law, instead passed a spending bill that would block funding for it. But the measure is unlikely to pass the Senate, and President Obama threatened to veto it as he warned Congress not to interfere in the city’s laws.

The law also poses challenges for the local police. Unless an officer believes someone is driving under the influence, the smell of marijuana is not considered evidence of a crime, and possessing up to an ounce of the drug is insufficient justification for a search warrant.

Will this new law create a bigger market for recreational users of the drug? Are we creating a need for more online drug classes? Are we telling our children that littering is worse than using marijuana? I would appreciate your input here too.