Washington, DC

How does your state measure up when it comes to establishing policies that reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition?

Harm Reduction


Does the state permit access to clean syringes for people who inject drugs?

  • YES

Does the state have naloxone training & distribution programs available to the public at syringe exchange programs or other facilities?

  • YES

Does the state have a 911 Good Samaritan law?

  • YES

Does the state have legal methadone access?

  • YES

Marijuana


Are marijuana possession and use legal for medical purposes?

  • YES

Is there a government-regulated distribution system for medical marijuana?

  • YES

More information on medical marijuana:

What are the criminal penalties for marijuana possession?

Criminal Justice


How many people are arrested for a drug offense each year? 

  • 210

What are the racial disparities in arrest rates?

  • Total population (2011): 42.4% white, 50.7% black.
    Drug Arrests (2011): 10.0% white, 89.5% black.

What happens to people’s voting rights when they become part of the criminal justice system?

  • Vote restored after: Term of Incarceration

Mayoral Candidates to Address Issues of Race, Policing and Criminal Justice at Public Forum

D.C. Residents Invited to Learn Candidate Views on High Profile Racial and Criminal Justice Issues

Forum Addresses Issues Pertinent to D.C. Residents Affected by Criminal Justice System

A coalition of civil rights and civil liberties’ organizations are hosting "Race, Policing and Criminal Justice," a D.C. mayoral forum that will educate the public about candidate’s views on criminal and racial justice issues. On any given day in the District, more than 16,000 people are under court-ordered supervision or incarcerated. Thousands more D.C. residents are affected by a loved one’s involvement in the criminal justice system and how law enforcement interacts with the community.

Contact:  Seema Sadanandan (202) 601-4278

D.C. Council Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana and End Marijuana Possession Arrests in D.C.

Bill Would Reduce Enormous Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice System

Last-Minute Amendments Weaken Bill; Advocates Warn That “Public Consumption” Provision Will Perpetuate Unfair and Costly Arrests

The D.C. Council took a major step to decriminalizing marijuana in the nation’s capital today by voting 11-1 in favor of a bill that would eliminate criminal penalties for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and treat possession as a civil offense. The D.C. Council takes a final vote on the bill in early March; it is expected to pass and to be signed into law by the mayor. It is viewed by both council members and advocates as a model for other jurisdictions looking to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Contact: Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Grant Smith (202) 421-5031

Tuesday: D.C. Council Voting on Decriminalization Legislation that Would End Marijuana Possession Arrests in D.C.

Decriminalization Supported by Most Councilmembers and Has Enormous Public Support; Bill Would Reduce Enormous Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice System

Advocates Urge Lawmakers to Pass Bill As-Is and Reject Amendments Weakening the Bill

Washington, D.C. lawmakers are expected to vote Tuesday on legislation approved in January by the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety that would eliminate criminal penalties for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and treat possession and public consumption as civil offenses.  Since its introduction in July 2013 by Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), the legislation has received overwhelming public support.

Contact: Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Bill Piper (202) 669-6430

Washington D.C. Takes Major Step Toward Ending Marijuana Possession Arrests

Decriminalization Bill Unanimously Approved by Panel of D.C. Councilmembers

With Support of Mayor and Supermajority of Councilmembers, Marijuana Decriminalization Appears Imminent

D.C. lawmakers approved legislation today that would eliminate criminal penalties under District law for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for personal use during a meeting of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. The panel of five Councilmembers approved the measure unanimously. The bill next goes before all thirteen Councilmembers for final consideration.

Contact: Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Grant Smith (202) 421-5031

Washington D.C. Takes Major Step Toward Ending Marijuana Possession Arrests

Wednesday: Councilmembers to Vote on Decriminalization Bill that Would Reduce Racial Disparities and Re-Prioritize Law Enforcement Resources

With Support of Mayor and Supermajority of Councilmembers, Marijuana Decriminalization Appears Imminent

D.C. lawmakers will vote Wednesday on legislation that would eliminate criminal penalties under District law for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for personal use during a meeting of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. The panel of five Councilmembers is expected to approve the measure. The bill would next go before all thirteen Councilmembers for final consideration.

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Grant Smith 202-421-5031

This Week: Press Conference and D.C. Council Hearings on Marijuana Decriminalization

Legislation Urgently Needed After Recent Reports Find that One in Eight African Americans in D.C. are Arrested for Marijuana Possession

Drug Policy Alliance to Testify in Support of Decriminalization and Ask Councilmembers to Take Additional Steps to End Marijuana Prohibition

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Grant Smith 202-421-5031

D.C. Introduces Legislation to Tax and Regulate Marijuana

Legislation Would Make Small Amounts of Marijuana Legal to Purchase and Possess

Historic Introduction Follows U.S. Department of Justice Decision to Allow Taxation and Regulation to Proceed in Colorado and Washington State

Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) will introduce legislation today before the Council of the District of Columbia that would eliminate all criminal and civil penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults over the age of 21 and provide the District of Columbia Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration with the authority to license and regulate the production and taxable sale of marijuana in the District.

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Grant Smith 202-421-5031

Study Cites Racial Disparities in D.C. Arrests

A new study by a group of civil rights lawyers says that black people in Washington are disproportionately arrested for minor drug offenses and other petty crimes, which the group’s director says has essentially “criminalized a large portion of the African American community.”
 

D.C. Councilmember Introduces Legislation to Eliminate Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession in the District of Columbia

Momentum Builds for Marijuana Law Reform Following Major ACLU Findings of Racial Disparities, Money Wasted on D.C. Marijuana Arrests

Recent Poll Finds Three Out of Four D.C. Voters Want to Remove Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) will introduce legislation today before the Council of the District of Columbia that would eliminate criminal penalties under District law for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. The legislation would subject a person in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana to a $100 civil fine. Juveniles additionally would have to complete a drug awareness program under the proposal. Failure by a juvenile to complete a drug awareness program within a year would result in the provision of a $200 fine and court-ordered community service.

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Grant Smith 202-421-5031

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