Weeded out


This recent scene from Seattle would remain a misdemeanor crime in the District under the city’s weakened decriminalization law. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

City lawmakers took a big step Tuesday toward decriminalizing marijuana – but not quite as big a step as they could have taken. The bill crafted by D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) — which could have made weed possession a civil violation punishable by a $25 traffic ticket, with the fine for public use upped to $100 — was amended on the dais to keep the open use of marijuana a crime everywhere but on one’s own property. Under pressure from Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) pushed for the change, saying he wasn’t prepared to subject his daughter and other impressionable youths to increasing clouds of marijuana smoke. But Wells argued the change would only heighten the racial disparities the decriminalization bill was intended to combat. The poor, the young and the black are least likely, he said, to have a private place to smoke. Meanwhile, the city’s top prosecutor, Ronald C. Machen Jr., still has no comment. More from WaTimes, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, WRC-TVDCistLoose LipsWAMU-FMD.C. Crime Stories and AP.

In other news:

Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe speaks, says he personally knew heart-attack victim Cecil Mills: “I am sorry for what happened and regret that it occurred” (WTTG-TV)

But so many questions left unasked and unanswered (STATter911)

Management prevails in police-contract arbitration; war of words ensues (PostWTOPDCistWashingtonianWRC-TVCity Desk)

Planning chief Harriet Tregoning leaves for high-level HUD post (Capital BusinessWBJHousing ComplexDCistWashingtonianGGW)

“I don’t think this is a job that should be held for a lifetime. … You can be in this job and not do anything controversial ever. And nothing changes. What good is that?” (WBJ)

Modified D.C. Promise scholarship program wins council okay over Eleanor Holmes Norton’s warnings (PostWJLA-TVDCistWAMU-FM)

David Catania watches and waits (Post)

“‘Andy hates white people: Headline.’ Just kidding, that’s off the record, I didn’t say that.” (DofD)

Former Department of Human Services employee will plead guilty to stealing $800,000 in public benefits (Post)

“Hard Times at Howard U.” (NYT)

Cabbies continue to resist city-mandated credit card systems (WAMU-FM)

Revolving door No. 1: Catania chief of staff moves to campaign (Loose Lips)

Revolving door No. 2: Gray community affairs chief moves to campaign (Loose Lips)

Jim Graham starts fundraising, remains behind challenger Brianne Nadeau (Loose Lips)

Kaya Henderson hires lawyer, who fought judges’ attempt to organize, as senior adviser (Post)

Glitch means high school students have more time to enter enrollment lottery (Post)

Paul Zukerberg notes marijuana revenue could house a lot of homeless families (Post)

GWU Hospital is once again an accredited Level 1 trauma center (WBJ)

Vincent Orange bill would strengthen “wage theft” penalties (DCist)

Disabled parking placard fraud (WTOP)

Accused Metro fraudster could get plea deal (Dr. Gridlock)

Believe it or not, the St. Elizabeths ice slide was quite popular (GGW)

South Dupont residents are upset about club noise (City Desk)

New police commanders in 1D and 5D (Hill Rag)

Schools funding should reflect higher cost of maintenance for DCPS schools over charter schools (DCFPI)

Work will soon get underway on long-delayed project to turn former Italian Embassy into condos (Where We Live)

Another church goes condo (UrbanTurf)

You could own the home where Minor Threat played its first show (UrbanTurf)

“If D.C. United wants a stadium, let it write a check for the whole thing” (Post letter)

An FEMS story with a happy ending (Post letter)

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · February 4