Yes. The possession of small amounts of marijuana is legal for adults in Washington DC, albeit within limits set in the Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Initiative, aka Initiative 71.
Adult (recreational) possession and use of Marijuana became legal in Washington DC in February 2015. Despite the legality, the District still regulates the amount of marijuana a person may possess, transfer to other persons, or cultivate. Persons who use or possess marijuana outside the limits set in Initiative 71 will be subject to civil penalties or criminal charges, depending on the circumstances surrounding the violation.
The Government of the District of Columbia regulates marijuana use and possession. The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) enforces these regulations, arrests, and investigates violations and crimes related to marijuana use and possession.
The possession of weed is legal in Washington DC. However, possession can become a crime, particularly a felony, under certain circumstances. Possession can become a felony depending on factors like the person’s age, the amount of weed, the location of the arrest, and the circumstances surrounding the arrest.
For the most part, possession of weed above the legal limit of two ounces (57 grams) is a misdemeanor. The most common situation where criminal possession becomes a felony is in instances where an individual has more than eight ounces (half-pound) of marijuana per (DC. Official Code § 48-904.01.).
Other factors that could result in felony charges include:
The penalties for first-time offenders include seizure of the weed and a ticket or civil infraction notice of violation. In aggravating cases, law enforcement may indict the individual, resulting in civil fines, community service, drug counseling, or jail time following a court hearing. Generally, the penalties become severe with subsequent offenses.
These penalties are stipulated under the District of Columbia Official Code § 48-904.01(a)(2B). The following are first-time possession offenses and their corresponding penalties:
As of now, there are no legal recreational cannabis dispensaries in operation. The District is working on the legalization and licensing of recreational cannabis dispensaries. Until then, the ways to obtain marijuana in Washington DC involve:
It is illegal for any individual (adult or underage) to buy or sell recreational cannabis in Washington DC.
Based on Initiative 71, it is legal for individuals 21 years and older to possess not more than two ounces (57 grams) of cannabis.
If an individual under 21 years of age is found in possession of marijuana of fewer than two ounces, it will be seized, and their guardians or caregivers will be notified. If it is two ounces or more, they will be arrested and prosecuted.
Adults 21 years or older can cultivate not more than six cannabis plants. Of the six, not more than three should be mature flowering plants. In residences with more than one adult, the total number of cannabis plants should not exceed 12. Of the 12, not more than six should be mature or flowering.
It is legal to fly with products that contain no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol or products approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Federal laws regulate airplane travel in the United States of America and marijuana is a schedule 1 drug per federal law, hence its illegal status.
Nevertheless, the Transport Security Administration (TSA) stated that it focuses its search on items like explosives that are aviation threats. If they find marijuana in the course of security screening, especially in amounts above the District's limit, they will report to the local law enforcement officials for prosecution in line with the District's law.
No. It is not illegal to be high in public in Washington DC. But public consumption of marijuana is a misdemeanor that warrants a non-custodial arrest per the policy change implemented by Mayor Muriel Bowser. This means that the police will not take offenders into custody. But the offenders should report to the police within 15 days. Underage offenders or offenders who pose a risk to properties and human life, however, do not qualify for a non-custodial arrest.
Marijuana consumption (by smoking or any other means) is legal only within private residences. It is unlawful to consume marijuana in public spaces or on vehicles. Businesses that allow the use of marijuana on their premises could lose their license or certificate of occupancy.
Initiative 71 has no impact on driving laws. Driving under the influence of drugs or impaired driving remains a criminal offense per DC Code § 50–2206.11.
The odor of marijuana no longer presents a reasonable articulable suspicion. Hence, officers can not conduct a vehicle search based on smell alone. There has to be evidence of impaired driving. Driving under the influence of marijuana is subject to the District's impaired driving laws. Penalties depend on the status of the offense.