As a cannabis user visiting or moving to the nation’s capital, one of the first questions you might have is: Is weed legal in Washington DC?
The good news for both medical and recreational users is that marijuana’s been legalized in DC, but, as with other states across the nation, there are rules and regulations you’ll need to know.
Understanding and following DC weed laws will allow you to enjoy your favorite strains and products without having to worry about getting into legal trouble.
Here, you’ll learn what you need to know about the laws surrounding recreational and medical marijuana, Initiative 71, and the penalties you might face for a DUI.
DC Weed Laws for Recreational Use
For those who smoke or otherwise use weed to relax, you’ll be pleased to know that the answer to the question “Is recreational weed marijuana legal in DC?” is “yes, it is.” Washington DC legalized recreational weed in 2015, following the enactment of Initiative 71, which we’ll discuss a little later.
DC weed laws for recreational use state that adults 21 and older can possess and use weed. When it comes to possession, you can only have up to two ounces. There are also regulations regarding growing your own weed, how much you can have at a time, and where you can (and can’t) use it. Understanding the laws that answer the question “Is weed legalized in DC?” will help you get the most enjoyment out of your favorite strains and products.
Washington DC Growing Laws
In Washington DC, recreational users can grow up to six plants in their own homes. If the idea of tending cannabis flowers from seed to maturity and readiness for use is something that appeals to you, this may come as pleasant news. There is one critical factor you’ll need to keep in mind, though: Only up to three of your six plants can be mature at a given time.
While you can grow the plants in your private residence, they can’t be visible to anyone outside. In other words, growing plants outdoors in DC might be a bit of a challenge. You can’t just pop them into your front or backyard garden. Even if your neighbors are chill with it, someone passing by who happens to see them might not be, and noncompliance could result in a penalty.
Now, what if you live in an apartment (or rented house)? Unfortunately, you’re technically at the mercy of your landlord. Even though the law states you can grow weed in your private residence, your landlord can prohibit it if they don’t want it on their property. Should you decide you want to cultivate plants in your home, you might want to check your lease or speak with your landlord to make sure it’s allowed first. That way, you can avoid getting into any potential trouble.
Washington DC Consumption Laws
Now, on to DC weed laws regarding consumption. Yes, you can legally use recreational cannabis products if you’re 21 or older. However, that weed legalization news doesn’t mean you can light up (or use any other types of products) wherever you want in DC.
Under DC weed laws, you can’t smoke or consume any cannabis products in public space. That includes sidewalks, parks, beaches, parking lots, alleys, or any other place where others can go. This even includes bars and nightclubs. You also can’t consume cannabis in your car, even though it’s technically your private property.
When it comes to using cannabis products of any kind, the safest (and only legal) place to consume them is on your own private property or the property of a friend. If your friend rents their home, their landlord will also need to allow it for you to use it legally.
There’s one more thing you should know about having and using cannabis in DC: While DC allows it for recreational and medical use, it’s still illegal on a federal level. As such, a federal law enforcement officer could arrest you for using or possessing cannabis, no matter whether or not you’re of age, how much you have, or where you are.
Medical Marijuana Laws
For those visiting or moving to DC who use cannabis to treat a specific ailment, you may be wondering: Is weed legalized in DC for medical use? DC legalized cannabis for medical purposes in 2010, and the original DC weed laws outlined regulations for dispensaries and set possession limits to two ounces.
DC has updated the laws over the years, making provisions for medical patients to grow their own plants and increasing possession limits to four ounces. Additionally, if you want to use medical marijuana to treat a specific issue, you will need to have a medical marijuana (MMJ) card.
Does Washington DC Accept Out-of-State MMJ Cards?
To obtain a medical marijuana card in DC, patients need to have a qualifying condition. According to weed legalization news, the Medical Marijuana Expansion Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 expanded qualifying conditions to include any ailment that a doctor feels would benefit from treatment with cannabis.
What if you’re a medical user from another state and plan to visit DC soon? You already likely know that you can’t legally travel across state lines with your cannabis products, even though you’re using them for medical purposes. So, what do you do?
The Medical Marijuana Reciprocity Amendment Act of 2015 made it possible for patients coming from states with programs equivalent to DC’s to use their medical cards in DC. In 2019, DC expanded reciprocity even further. So long as you have a card from a state with a medical cannabis program, you can use it in DC dispensaries.
How Long Does a DC MMJ Card Last?
To get a medical marijuana card in DC, you first need to speak with your healthcare provider. If your doctor feels you’ll benefit from using it, they’ll write you a recommendation for medical cannabis. Then you’ll need to fill out an application for an MMJ card and submit it to the Department of Health.
As part of the application process, you will have to pay a fee. Once you get your card, you can take it and your recommendation to a medical dispensary. Typically, a card is good for one year, but DC enacted emergency legislation that extended that period for a short time. According to DC.gov, a patient that submits a new or renewal application before January 31, 2022 will receive a card valid for two years. Registrations issued starting February 1, 2022 will be valid for one year.
What Is Initiative 71?
Initiative 71 (often called I-71) is the more well-known name for the Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Initiative. I-71 allowed for legal marijuana in DC for recreational use. It’s also the initiative that outlines the weed laws in DC, including how much you can possess, how many plants you can grow, where you can use weed, and how much you can give to another legal user.
While I-71 allows for recreational possession and use, it never legalized the sale of cannabis products. As such, you’ll want to get all of your cannabis products from I-71 compliant stores.
I-71 Compliant Stores
I-71 compliant stores like Legacy DC are those that operate within the confines of the law. Getting weed from them also ensures that you’re getting high-quality products and that you’re obtaining them legally. Staying within the confines of DC weed laws means that you can enjoy your products safely without having to worry about getting into trouble.
DC Weed Laws: Can You Get a DUI?
According to the weed laws in DC, you cannot operate any vehicle (including a boat) while under the influence of cannabis. If you get pulled over and the officer suspects you’re high, they could ask you to perform a sobriety test or take a chemical test. If you are high, you could find yourself facing a DUI. Here’s what penalties you could face under DC weed laws:
If it’s your first time receiving a DUI for driving while high, you could go to jail for up to 180 days or have to pay a $1,000 fine. In some cases, you may have to do both. You could also have your license suspended for up to six months.
A second weed-related DUI could mean up to one year in jail. The potential fine gets increased to a minimum of $2,500 (but no more than $5,000). Again, you could go to jail and also have to pay the fine. You may also have your driver’s license suspended for a year.
Receiving a third DUI means you could face a minimum of 12 days in jail, with the potential of up to one year. You may have to pay a fine of between $2,500 and $10,000. Depending on your situation, you may face both penalties, and you may have your license suspended for two years.
A fourth DUI could result in a 45-day to a one-year jail sentence, a fine of $2,500 to $10,000, or both.
In short, weed-related DUI charges are no joke. Be sure to avoid smoking or otherwise consuming any cannabis products if you know you’re going to have to drive somewhere.
Final Thoughts on “Is Weed Legalized in DC?”
So, is weed legal in Washington DC? Yes, Initiative 71 legalized its use and consumption, but there are several DC weed laws you should know before you get started. Understanding the weed laws in DC, including how much you can have, where you can use it, and the regulations surrounding home growing, is essential.
Finally, whether you’re a visitor to or resident of DC, make sure that you get all of your cannabis from I-71 compliant shops. Following the laws will allow you to enjoy your favorite weed products safely and legally!