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DC mayor signs bill decriminalizing marijuana possession

[JURIST] Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray [official website] on Monday signed a bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession in the District of Columbia for up to an ounce. The proposed law would make possession of marijuana a civil violation with a penalty of $25, which is a substantial change from the prior misdemeanor criminal offense which carried a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The measure will now face [Reuters report] a 60-day congressional review. The proposed legislation arrives as the Democratic primary opens Tuesday in the 2014 DC mayoral election, where Gray is likely facing a number of challengers after allegations of a campaign finance scandal [Reuters report] emerged in connection to his successful 2010 bid.

The use of marijuana for medical purposes and the legalization of marijuana [JURIST backgrounder] for recreational use has garnered more legal support [Marijuana Policy Project website] in the US in recent months. Last week the Colorado Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that lawyers can advise marijuana businesses in the state without fear of violating state attorney ethics laws. In March the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [official website] succeeded [JURIST report] in a lawsuit to defend the rights of Arizonans to use marijuana extracts for medical conditions. Also in March, the state senate in Georgia unanimously approved a house version [JURIST reports] of a groundbreaking medical marijuana bill for the state.

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