D.C.'s marijuana decriminalization goes into effect today, but the new law still faces an uphill battle in Congress.
Many marijuana advocates have been waiting for this day for months, even years. While you still get smacked with a $500 fine for smoking marijuana in public, police can't detain or search you for suspicion over having pot on you. Also, if you're caught with less than an ounce you get a $25 fine.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton says she’s facing mixed emotions now that lawmakers on Capitol Hill let the 30-day Congressional review period for D.C. laws lapse.
“Even though we should be celebrating today because we've gone through the review period. The fact is that, as usual, we have yet another obstacle," Norton says.
That other obstacle is an effort by Maryland Republican Andy Harris to overturn the decriminalization effort, which he was able to include in the bill to fund the District. Norton is predicting Harris’ effort won’t stand.
"But that is not the end of this story because we're going to the Senate. It takes two to tango and the second body has not spoken yet. We think they will more likely, much more likely than the House be on our side," she says.
Many observers are also predicting Harris's provision will never see the light of day in the Senate because lawmakers are expected to fund the government at last year’s levels instead of voting on individual spending bills.