DC is steadily becoming a hot spot for marijuana on the East Coast. But Is weed legal in DC? Learn all about the DC weed laws and how residents and tourists are buying legal marijuana today.
If you’re a 420 enthusiast planning a trip to our nation’s capital, you may be wondering, is weed legal in DC? The answer is yes, but with some caveats.
The Washington DC weed laws have changed in recent years.
While it’s not legal to purchase weed in the capital, the passing of Initiative 71 in 2015 made it legal for stores to offer marijuana as a gift.
Learn more about Initiative 71 – also called I71 – and how you can legally get high-quality marijuana without a medical card.
The first attempts to change DC marijuana laws in favor of legalization were made in 1998, with a referendum to legalize medical weed in the District.
While the majority of voters approved of the initiative, it was blocked by Congress. It was another 17 years before Initiative 71 DC was passed.
So, what are the ins and outs of Washington DC’s Initiative 71? How can you grow, possess, and smoke marijuana legally in Washington DC?
DC’s Initiative 71 legalized recreational marijuana for private, personal use. However, it’s still not legal to use marijuana in public spaces in DC.
Initiative 71 changed Washington DC marijuana laws so that they contain the following rules and restrictions:
The bottom line is you can grow marijuana at home and use it at home. The maximum number of plants allowed per residence is six, regardless of the number of occupants.
But a stipulation of this rule is if two or more adults who are 21 or older live in a single residence, all six plants may be mature at one time.
Note: Even though your car is your private property, streets are considered public spaces, so it’s illegal to smoke in your car if it’s parked on the street. Also, keep in mind that it’s still illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana.
Weed laws in DC also protect the medical use of marijuana. If you have a medical marijuana card, you can legally purchase marijuana at any one of the seven dispensaries in the area.
Visitors with a medical marijuana card from any state can buy from the dispensaries, but it’s still illegal to transport marijuana across state lines.
You may think that the restriction on selling cannabis means you can’t get it from a store. However, Initiative 71 and other DC marijuana laws allow the transfer of marijuana as a gift.
Many recreational marijuana stores have different items for purchase, and you can receive up to an ounce of cannabis as a gift alongside what you buy.
With an understanding of the restrictions of Initiative 71, you can have confidence in any actions you take to purchase and consume marijuana in DC. If you still have questions, talk to experts at a trusted I71 compliant business like Dreams Wellness. Not only can you shop with confidence, but you can also enjoy award-winning cannabis strains.
Even though possession of marijuana is legal for adults 21 years and older, there are some conditions and exceptions.
For example, you can grow marijuana plants in a home that you own privately.
However, if you rent a house or live in an apartment complex, you need to talk to your landlord before growing or smoking marijuana. If you live in public housing, marijuana possession and consumption is strictly prohibited.
Since DC operates as a state, local officials can pass laws for DC citizens. But marijuana remains illegal at a federal level, and around one-third of DC territory is federally owned.
So before you light up or begin growing a marijuana plant, check to see whether or not you’re on Federal property – private or not. You’re still at risk for federal penalties if you’re found to be in possession of marijuana in DC, regardless of Initiative 71.
There are marijuana storefronts in DC that do not follow the legal guidelines of I71. Therefore, when purchasing cannabis in DC, make sure you’re shopping with an I71 compliant storefront.
The number one way to tell a store is compliant is if they do not market or sell marijuana outright.
As a consumer, it is your responsibility to know whether the actions of a seller are legal or not. Do not rely on sellers to understand the legality behind marijuana use in DC. Doing so puts you at risk for legal repercussions like fines. When in doubt, don’t make a purchase. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
I71 compliant businesses are often called I71 gifting stores, and they strictly follow legal guidelines.
They can offer a gift of up to an ounce of cannabis with the purchase of other merchandise, and all customers must be 21 years or older.
Customers cannot ask to purchase marijuana directly. This request may result in being asked to leave an establishment. Instead, ask for the store’s I71 gift menu. Note that you are legally permitted to share or give a cannabis gift you receive from these stores to anyone in DC who is over 21.
Instead of looking at marijuana compliance as a hurdle, think of it as a challenge to add excitement to your cannabis purchases.
Legal loopholes make it more exciting to receive cannabis as a gift. So instead of buying marijuana in a run-of-the-mill transaction, you get a fun gift with your purchase.
Marijuana laws in Washington DC have changed over the past few decades. Because DC isn’t a state, marijuana supporters often face pushback from federal representatives in the area.
As a result, all of the marijuana initiatives in our nation’s capital – including Washington DC’s Initiative 71 – have each faced hurdles in the process of becoming laws.
The very first marijuana initiative in Washington DC was introduced in 1998, and was known as Initiative 59. The DC Board of Elections and Ethics signed off this initiative, and it was in motion to be printed on DC ballots that year.
At the same time, Congress introduced the Barr amendment in an effort to block Initiative 59 from making it onto ballots, and the President signed it into law. The act made it illegal for appropriated funds to pay for ballot initiatives related to controlled substances like marijuana.
However, the ballots were already printed. The citizens of DC cast their votes, and Initiative 59 passed with 69% of the vote. This result wasn’t released to the public because of the Barr amendment. DC voters sued the DC Board of Elections and Ethics, and the case went before a court in 1999. The judge ruled that Initiative 59 passed and moved forward as DC Act 13-138.
It took another ten years before the act was finally signed into law in 2010, and by then, society was generally more accepting of marijuana. But the first DC medical marijuana dispensary didn’t open until 2013. After that, an emergency amendment was passed in 2014 to give more freedom to physicians who wanted to prescribe medical marijuana to patients.
In 2015, the first recreational marijuana legislation appeared on DC ballots. Initiative 71 in DC was a big step forward for marijuana supporters. The following year, DC’s mayor increased the monthly purchase limit from two to four ounces for medical marijuana cardholders. However, cardholders can still only have two ounces in their private residence or personal possession at any given time.
Yet another act concerning medical marijuana took effect in 2017, allowing medical marijuana cardholders from select states to purchase cannabis in DC. In 2019, the act expanded to allow medical marijuana cards from all US states.
The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 challenged DC’s marijuana laws. As a result, a temporary order now allows medical marijuana patients to receive cannabis deliveries at home.
I71 DC decriminalized marijuana in our nation’s capital.
If the Metropolitan police stop you with two ounces or less of marijuana, there is no penalty as long as you are 21 or older.
There are also no penalties for having cannabis plants in your private residence as long as the number of plants does not exceed six, and only three of them are mature if you are the only person living in your home who is 21 or older.
Smoking marijuana in public is a misdemeanor. If you’re caught, police will issue you a citation without arresting you. However, if you are found to have more than two ounces on your person, you may be arrested and face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
If you distribute more than one ounce to a person or sell any amount of cannabis, you face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for the first offense. Subsequent offenses get more jail time and higher fines, up to five years and $50,000 respectively.
If a person under 21 is involved with two ounces or less of marijuana, police will seize the marijuana but will not issue a citation. People under the age of 21 may still face fines and jail time for more than two ounces of cannabis.
Direct sale of recreational marijuana is prohibited.
Gifting marijuana is limited to a single ounce from person to person. This limit includes storefronts that give marijuana as a gift with the purchase of other merchandise.
If you have a medical marijuana card in DC, you can obtain up to four ounces per month from a dispensary, but only possess two ounces at a time.
If you were wondering, "is recreational weed legal in Washington DC?" Now you know.
As long as you follow Initiative 71 guidelines and other DC marijuana laws, recreational use in our nation’s capital is OK.
The Washington DC marijuana laws have a long way to go to be more cannabis-friendly, but the progress that has been made over the last decade is impressive.
As long as you stick to a trustworthy I-71 compliant dispensary like Dreams Wellness, you have nothing to fear when it comes to breaking any DC weed laws.