Marion Barry, DC Council Aim to Decriminalize Marijuana

By Joan E. Greve

Oct 25, 2013 12:51pm

Thanks partly to D.C. councilman and former Mayor Marion Barry, the nation’s capital could soon join the states of Colorado and Washington in decriminalizing small amounts of nonmedical marijuana.

D.C. Councilman Tommy Wells proposed ”The Simple Possession of Small Quantities Of Marijuana Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2013″ at a public hearing Wednesday. The law would reduce possession of less than one ounce of marijuana to a civil fine of up to $100.

Barry cosponsored the bill, which found large support among the council, but also had his own suggestions for it.

After a resident raised the issue of home cultivation, the former mayor said, “Mr. Wells, we should look at the idea of allowing residents to grow small amounts of marijuana.”

The former mayor and his family are no strangers to illegal drug use.

His son, Marion Christopher Barry, pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana and PCP in 2011, and was reportedly arrested this summer on charges of DUI and possession of marijuana, according to ABC News affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington. He was reportedly released on his own recognizance with a Nov. 13 court date.

The elder Barry has had his own brushes with the law, having served six months in prison on a 1990 misdemeanor drug possession charge.

D.C. Mayor Vince Gray expressed possible support for the marijuana bill, if it included provisions to seal minors’ records of civil marijuana penalties and to require identification when a ticket is issued.

Council members and concerned citizens proposed a variety of other additions to the bill, such as expunging past criminal records of marijuana usage, eliminating marijuana odor as probable cause for a search and even extending the bill to full legalization.

“We are working together to the point where we need to, at a minimum, address expungement,” Wells said. “If it’s wrong today, it was wrong yesterday.”

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