D.C. Council committee calls for $25, rather than $100, pot-possession fine

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A D.C. Council committee is recommending a $25 rather than $100 fine as the civil penalty for marijuana possession under proposed decriminalization.

The fine and other elements of the decriminalization bill will be up for discussion Wednesday at a markup hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety.

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells proposed lowering the fine for possession of marijuana but keeping the fine at the $100 level for those caught smoking the drug in public.

The change reflects input the committee received from witnesses who “testified that a $100 fine would impose too heavy a burden on households with a limited ability to pay,” the committee report states.

“By lowering the amount of the fine, we lessen the burden on individuals and families for whom a larger fine could be devastating financially, while still providing a mechanism to discourage marijuana use,” the report continues.

Current law makes possession punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Mr. Wells, Ward 6 Democrat who is running for mayor, has cited racial disparities in the arrests made for marijuana possession as the reason for reform.

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