Despite overwhelming support, the status of marijuana is still contentious across the US. New York and New Jersey have both struggled with legalizing weed, even with voter support.
What about Washington, DC? Almost five years after Initiative 71 passed with a landslide, people are still asking, “Is weed legal in DC?”
The simple answer is yes. There’s a lot more nuance to the law than that though, so read on to make sure you don’t get caught up in a tangle of legal red tape.
Is Weed Legal in DC?
As mentioned, the short answer to the question is yes, weed is legal in DC. Initiative 71 proposed letting adults over the age of 21 have up to two ounces of marijuana.
Sounds simple, right? Well, DC marijuana laws are a little bit more complex than that.
One of the first major issues is that while it’s legal to have marijuana, it’s not legal to buy it anywhere in the District. So how do people get weed if no one can legally sell it to you?
The marijuana laws in DC have a clever workaround for this issue. While no one can sell you marijuana, adults over the age of 21 can give each other up to one ounce of marijuana.
This has led to a situation where vendors offer “free” marijuana as a “gift” with the purchase of another good. Some examples have included stickers, raffle tickets, and motivational speeches. Clandestine pop-up markets are popular places for such exchanges.
Cannabis events are common, and delivery services are also popular. Someone looking for marijuana will need to pay attention to events and delivery services. Events are often advertised on social media. Interested people can message vendors directly on the platform.
Washington, DC marijuana laws also allow adults over the age of 21 to grow their own. A citizen can legally have up to six plants, only three of which can be mature at a time. The plants can only be cultivated in a private residence.
This allows people to get around restrictions on the sale of marijuana. Seeds and immature plants can be “gifted.” Individuals can later transfer up to an ounce of marijuana to another person as a gift.
The Medical Marijuana Program
After a long fight Initiative 71 took effect in 2015. It took years for Congress to approve rules around medical cannabis. But now the District of Cannabis is in full effect.
Even now, it’s still fairly difficult to buy medical marijuana in DC. Certificates from other states are accepted, but the District has just a handful of dispensaries to serve nearly 6,000 patients. People often have to travel from one ward to another.
Medical marijuana patients can have up to two ounces of marijuana per month. Since dispensaries tend to have higher prices, many patients have turned to the recreational market.
Marijuana-Related Criminal Offenses
People can still be arrested for crimes related to marijuana. It’s one of the reasons people are still asking, “Is marijuana legal in DC?”
As noted, it’s legal to have up to two ounces. You can still be arrested for possession if you have more than that. You can also be arrested for the sale of marijuana.
There’s also the issue of public consumption. DC allows people to use marijuana on private property, such as in your own home. Use in a public space, such as a park, is a criminal act.
Then there’s the issue of federal law. Marijuana is illegal at the federal level. As such, federal authorities in DC can still arrest people for possession of any amount or use on federal lands.
Federal lands make up a good chunk of DC’s area, so it’s not exactly difficult to be in violation of the federal law.
What about CBD?
Since the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, there’s been plenty of talk about the legalization of hemp. With it, many have asserted hemp-derived CBD products are also legal nationwide.
This hasn’t meant people are always in the clear for having CBD products. That’s especially true when federal authorities are involved.
The long and short of it is that CBD products do appear to be legal at the federal level, so long as they’re derived from hemp plants.
Change is in the Air
Many in DC are hopeful that the situation will soon change and fully recreational marijuana sales will begin. The first step is creating a framework that allows for the creation of a legal marketplace.
DC’s mayor took this step in May 2019, introducing the Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2019. The Act clears the path for taxation of sales. It also allows for the licensing of cultivators, manufacturers, and off-premise retailers.
The mayor and her supporters feel it’s important to get these rules in place and create a legal market for recreational weed. The current set up is driving people to illegal sales channels. That, in turn, encourages crime, robs the District of tax revenue, and puts users at risk.
Still, there’s contention about the legality of tabling cannabis sales laws. Federal law prohibits DC from spending money on legalizing recreational weed. Some members of Congress have said that the DC Council’s drafting of the Act is in violation of that law.
There are some signs that change is afoot in Congress itself. In July, the federal government considered new legislation that would allow banks to fund cannabis companies. If the feds are willing to let banks fund cannabis ventures, then discussion of federal legalization may not be far behind.
Get Connected to Green
Now you know the answer to, “Is weed legal in DC?” is yes. If you’re looking for delivery, events, or even a smoke shop, search our directories. We have the information you need to find your new favorite vendor.