The D.C. Council has approved a watered-down marijuana decriminalization bill that maintains criminal penalties for smoking in public.
The bill approved in an initial vote Tuesday would decriminalize possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana, and it would not be a crime to smoke on one's own property. But the council also approved an amendment that would treat smoking in public the same as possession of an open container of alcohol, which is a low-level criminal offense.
District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray and police Chief Cathy Lanier were among those concerned about giving the green light to public pot smoking. They said $100 civil fines for public smoking would essentially be unenforceable.
The bill's sponsor, Councilmember Tommy Wells, was the only one to vote against the change.