Updated May 2020
The U.S. capital, despite being a city, has its own set of laws. Although the District of Columbia hasn’t led the way in regards to cannabis policy, Washington D.C. marijuana laws have established a comprehensive medical marijuana program and legalized recreational marijuana possession and use in certain situations. Learn more about Washington D.C. marijuana laws below.
Recreational Marijuana in Washington D.C.
Is marijuana legal in Washington D.C.? Yes. As of February 2015, the D.C. Council legalized the recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 years of age and older. Under the law, individuals can now possess up to two ounces without being arrested. In addition, people may also grow up to six plants in their homes for personal use.
It’s important to note, however, that Washington D.C. continues to prohibit public possession and the use of marijuana on federal land, which accounts for roughly 20% of the D.C. area.
Additionally, DC residents cannot buy or sell marijuana, but in May 2019, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the Safe Cannabis Sales Act with hopes of establishing safe regulations on the sale of marijuana in the District.
What Is Conditional Release and How Does it Relate to Washington D.C. Marijuana Laws?
A conditional release allows individuals who are facing their very first marijuana-related prosecution to choose to be under probation rather than have their case go to trial. After the completion of probation, the first-time offender will have the charge wiped from their criminal record.
In Washington D.C., all first-time marijuana offenders are allowed to opt for conditional release, giving them the opportunity to accept probation. This allows them to avoid going to trial, have any subsequent jail time, and pay a fine. Once they have successfully completed probation, the marijuana charge will no longer appear on their permanent record.
Hash Laws in Washington D.C.
Hashish (hash) is a substance made from the resin found in cannabis plants. Hash is extremely potent and can cause a user to feel very strong psychoactive effects. While the possession of hash is not a misdemeanor, it can come with up to 180 days of jail time and a $1,000 fine. If you are found manufacturing hash in Washington D.C., you can be sentenced to up to five years in jail and a $50,000 fine. However, manufacturing hash is still not a criminal act and does not come with any misdemeanor charges.
Marijuana Concentrate Laws in Washington D.C.
A marijuana concentrate is created by taking marijuana and removing any excess plant materials and residue that remains from the cannabis plant. The resulting concentrate is an extract that is highly potent and contains very high levels of THC. Similar to hash, possessing and manufacturing marijuana concentrate is not a misdemeanor, but comes with heavy fines and other penalties. The penalties for the possession and manufacturing of concentrates is identical to the penalties for possessing and manufacturing hash mentioned above.
Drugged Driving Laws in Washington D.C.
Even if you have legally acquired and used marijuana, there are no circumstances in which you are legally allowed to drive in Washington D.C. after consuming marijuana. Marijuana use can greatly impact your ability to safely navigate the road and operate motor vehicles, and because of this danger to yourself, anyone in your car, and anyone you share the road with, there is little tolerance for drugged driving. If you have recently used marijuana, Washington D.C. marijuana laws state that you should avoid drugged driving at all costs.
Washington D.C. Marijuana Laws Regarding Drug Paraphernalia
Drug paraphernalia is the name given to any items that are used in the consumption or ingestion of drugs, with the most popular examples of marijuana paraphernalia including pipes and bongs. Washington D.C. marijuana laws regarding drug paraphernalia are actually quite forgiving, as there is no penalty for the possession or sale of marijuana paraphernalia, as long as the individual is at least 21 years old.
Possession of paraphernalia for an individual under the age of 21 can result in a $100 fine and up to 30 days of jail time. Anyone found selling paraphernalia to somebody under the age of 21 or breaking any other paraphernalia selling laws is subject to six months in jail, and a $1,000 fine. Any subsequent offense can result in two years of jail time and a $5,000 fine.
Medical Marijuana in Washington D.C.
Medical marijuana was first legalized in Washington, D.C. in 1998 after voters approved the “Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998.” Despite its passing, the implementation of the program was delayed by Congress passing the Barr Amendment, legislation that prohibited D.C. from using funds to support a medical cannabis program. That amendment was eventually overturned in 2009, finally opening the door for legal medical cannabis purchases.
Several changes to the law have been made since it took effect. In 2014, the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee announced it would be adding new qualifying conditions and passed emergency legislation to lift restrictions on physicians to make it easier for patients diagnosed with conditions like PTSD and epilepsy to quality. In September 2016, Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a directive to double the amount of cannabis medical marijuana patients can purchase in a 30-day period to 4 ounces.
On November 1, 2016, the D.C. Council unanimously passed B21-0210 to allow registered nurses, physician assistants, dentists, and naturopathic physicians to recommend medicinal cannabis and to require that an independent laboratory test all marijuana. The bill also includes a provision that allows patients to purchase cannabis from any dispensary rather than being limited to one.
There are currently seven medical marijuana dispensaries and eight cultivation centers operating in Washington D.C. Licensing of dispensaries is operated by the Washington D.C. Department of Health. In August 2019, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that Washington, D.C. dispensaries would accept medical marijuana cards from any state in the U.S.
Medical marijuana can be approved for any debilitating condition as long as it is recommended by a DC licensed doctor.
Consumption of CBD from Hemp Oil in Washington D.C.
Hemp-derived CBD products are legal under Federal Law in the United States; however, individual state laws are dynamic and fluid. Individual states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.
Cultivation of Cannabis in Washington D.C.
Under the District of Columbia’s recreational marijuana law, adults ages 21 years and older can personally cultivate up to six marijuana plants within their residence. In a home with multiple adults, residents can grow up to 12 plants, and six of those can be mature.
Legal Status of Other U.S. States
Stay up to date on the latest state legislation, referendums, and public opinion polls. Our Marijuana Legalization Map allows you to browse the current status of medical and recreational marijuana laws in other U.S. states and territories.
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