Pot Enforcement Policy for District Explained

WI Web Staff | 5/13/2014, 11:52 p.m.
Anyone who smokes marijuana on federal property could still be prosecuted under D.C. law./ Courtesy Photo

The office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, recently explained its policy on enforcement regarding the decriminalization of marijuana.

On the federal level, marijuana possession and usage is still considered illegal, but the Obama administration -- through the Department of Justice -- has decided not to penalize states and cities that have either legalized or decriminalized the drug.

While Ronald Machen, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, has not made a statement on decriminalization, his spokesman, William Miller, said that under the new bill, smoking marijuana in public would remain a criminal offense.

“So anyone who smokes marijuana on federal property could still be prosecuted under D.C. law," Miller said.

"Individuals arrested for merely possessing, but not using less than one ounce of marijuana on federal property, would be presented to our office for potential prosecution under federal law,” said Miller. “We will access each case on an individual basis, weighing all available information and evidence consistent with Justice Department’s enforcement priorities, and the need to use limited investigative and prosecutorial resources to address the most significant threats to public safety."

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) guided marijuana decriminalization legislation through the council, with the bill being signed into law earlier this year by Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D).

District of Columbia Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) is in the process of defending the District’s right to enact the decriminalization law without the interference of the U.S. Congress.

Miller, who said there will be heavy use of diversion programs in marijuana prosecutions, added that the programs will more than likely be in use for federal offenses.