WASHINGTON – It took nearly 15 years after voters approved medical marijuana for it to become available in the District of Columbia, but the next major change to pot laws in the nation’s capital is on the fast track.
The D.C. Council is poised to approve a bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot, and Democratic Mayor Vincent Gray announced last month that he supports it. He could sign the bill into law as early as January.
It’s a big change from a year ago, when there was no medical marijuana in the capital and elected officials weren’t talking about relaxing recreational pot laws. Now, there are three tightly regulated marijuana dispensaries in the city with few patients yet.
City leaders have long been cautious about pot, in part because Congress has the final say on what’s legal in the district. But with 17 states having some form of decriminalization and the Justice Department taking a hands-off approach to legalization in Colorado and Washington state, city leaders think Congress won’t be interested in fighting that battle.