Marijuana

DC City Council Panel Approves Marijuana Decriminalization

Would turn it into the equivalent of a parking ticket

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The District of Columbia stepped closer to decriminalizing marijuana on Wednesday when a city council panel approved a measure that would make smoking a joint in the U.S. capital a violation comparable to a parking ticket.

Approved unanimously by the city council's public safety committee, the bill reduces penalties for possessing less than an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana to a fine as little as $25.

Eight times more blacks than non-blacks in Washington are arrested for pot possession, and committee Chairman Tommy Wells said the measure's goal was fairness and reducing law enforcement costs.