Congress Blocks Marijuana Decriminalization in D.C., Racist Pot Arrests Rage On

Representing the interest of local residents, Washington D.C.’s Council voted to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of America’s most popular illicit drug, cannabis, earlier this year. Under decriminalization, rather than arresting people and charging them with a felony for carrying a little bit of the herb, the punishment would be a fee similar to a parking citation.

Unfortunately D.C. is unlike all other U.S. jurisdictions in that its laws are all reviewed by Congress, and the district’s residents have no voting representatives in Congress. So, the power of the vote has been superseded by federal authorities and our nation’s capital will continue to crowd prisons and jails with nonviolent, primarily black, pot users.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) introduced an amendment to a District of Columbia Appropriations Bill that prohibits D.C.’s government from spending either federal or locally raised funds to carry out any regulation, rule or law that reduces criminal penalties for pot. The U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved the amendment on June 25. In effect, the amendment negates Washington D.C.’s recently enacted marijuana decriminalization law.

“By any measure, the war on drugs, particularly on marijuana, has been a failure and severely impacted [b]lack communities and communities of color,” said Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, executive director at the ACLU of the D.C. in a press release. “Today’s rider passage is a detrimental blow in the D.C. Council’s attempt to enact smarter, fairer laws that address racial disparities and the mass incarceration of communities of color.”

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.