- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) - District of Columbia lawmakers have advanced legislation that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The D.C. Council’s public safety committee voted unanimously on Wednesday to send the measure to the full council for consideration.

The measure would eliminate criminal penalties for people who possess one ounce or less of marijuana. Instead, they would be fined and the drug would be seized.

Currently under D.C. law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense that carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.

Councilmember Tommy Wells, who chairs the committee, says there are “undeniable racial disparities” in marijuana arrests and that criminal justice reform is needed.

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