Today a marijuana decriminalization law that was passed by the DC Council in the spring took effect. Under the new law, police can no longer take action by simply smelling the odor of marijuana and they aren’t allowed to demand identification from any person possessing up to one ounce of weed. While people with higher amounts of weed (over 1 ounce) can still be arrested and charged with a crime, others caught carrying weed will simply be required to hand over any visible contraband and will receive a $25 fine.
Opponents of the law criticize it as being too vague and confusing for officers to uphold–and those same officers had no input on the law itself. Beyond being unclear about how to follow-through on the new law, many District residents seem to misunderstand the implications of the law. DC police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump has been fighting a common misconception that the law means possession and use of marijuana are now legal. Her statement addressed the matter by simply saying “This is absolutely not true!” (Except for the fact that you don’t really get in any trouble for having 3/4 of an ounce in your pocket!) For those residents who are still unsure about what is and is not allowed, the police department has prepared wallet-sized cards laying out key facts and starting today, information will be posted on the Metropolitan Police Department website.