Washington D.C. Marijuana Laws

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Updated August 2019

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, it has established a comprehensive medical marijuana law and has decriminalized simple possession.

Recreational Marijuana in Washington D.C.

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 2 ounces without being arrested. In addition, people may also grow up to 6 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 percent 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.

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.

The District of Columbia’s City Council then unanimously approved the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment to legalize medical marijuana in 2010.

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 5 medical marijuana dispensaries and 8 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 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 6 marijuana plants within their residence. In a home with multiple adults, residents can grow up to 12 plants, and 6 of those can be mature.


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