At midnight Thursday, a marijuana decriminalization law passed by the D.C. Council in April completed a 60-day congressional review period and went into effect.
The law culminated after a lengthy debate that sought to address the huge racial disparity in arrest statistics and allows people to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. Smoking and selling weed, however, is still illegal.
The new law impacts how police handle one of the most common violations they encounter:
- Police must see someone smoking pot, not just smell marijuana, to charge someone with a misdemeanor, which is similar to possessing open containers of alcohol in public.
- Police are no longer allowed to demand identification from a person found in possession of up to one ounce.
- Police who find people with larger amounts or using marijuana in public places can still be arrested and charged with a crime, but otherwise they receive a $25 fine.
People were definitely excited for the clock to strike midnight:
Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.
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