D.C. Council advances bill to decriminalize pot

The D.C. Council on Tuesday took another step to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. (Photo courtesy of the Drug Enforcement Agency)

The D.C. Council on Tuesday took another step to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. (Photo courtesy of the Drug Enforcement Agency)

The D.C. Council took the first step in decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

The bill, approved on first vote Tuesday, would make it legal to carry up to one ounce of marijuana and to smoke the drug at home, according to the Associated Press.

But the council changed the original proposal so that smoking in public is still a crime. The council approved an amendment that would treat smoking in public the same as possession of an open container of alcohol, a $100 civil fine.

Under the bill, by Councilman Tommy Wells, public pot offenders would be ticketed; $25 for possessing less than one ounce or $100 for smoking pot, according to NBC4.

Offenders would not face criminal charges or have a criminal record.

The bill faces another council vote, then would have to be signed by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.

Support for legalizing marijuana has increased dramatically, according to a poll in The Washington Post earlier this month. Four years ago, the city was evenly split on the issue; now legalizing marijuana is supported by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.