Washington DC Marijuana Limitations

What Happens if I am Under 21 and Caught Carrying or Using Cannabis?

With the legalization of marijuana in the District of Columbia, persons under 21 years may ask, "how much cannabis can I legally have?". Per the provisions of Initiative 71, it is illegal for anyone under 21 years to carry marijuana or marijuana-infused edible products. Although marijuana has several medical benefits, it can harm the mental health and brain development of persons under 21 years who use it. One cannot also overrule the possibility of this demographic abusing the drug. Officers of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPDC) are empowered to seize any marijuana from under-21 persons caught carrying up to 2 ounces of the drug. However, MPDC officers will not issue tickets or arrest such offenders.

In addition to seizing the marijuana in possession of persons who appear under-21 but cannot provide proof of age, MPDC officers will issue warning tickets. The MPDC officers will return the seized marijuana if such persons bring their warning tickets to the police station in the neighborhood where the marijuana seizure happened and demonstrate they are 21 years or older by providing government-issued IDs. However, they must do so no sooner than 24 hours and no later than 21 days after seizing the marijuana. For marijuana seized from persons who cannot demonstrate to be 21 years or over or those confirmed to be under 21 years, the MPDC officers put such marijuana in a heat-sealed bag in the drug collection box for destruction as contraband.

Where is it Legal to Smoke Weed in D.C.?

Because of the tricky nature of marijuana laws in the District of Columbia, many district residents ask, "where can I use cannabis?" Others also ask, "can I carry cannabis around with me?" Generally, in D.C., it is safe to smoke weed in places not considered open or public. Whether using marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, smoking weed on private property is legal. However, privately accessible public places, such as stores, bars, or social clubs, do not qualify as private places, and it is illegal to smoke weed in such areas.

Under D.C.'s laws, it is a criminal offense to smoke weed in public places or on federal properties, despite the legalization of recreational cannabis. For clarity, federal properties in D.C. include parks, public housing projects by the federal government, military properties, and the White House. Also, even though people consider their cars private property, it is illegal to smoke weed in a vehicle, whether moving on motionless. Per D.C. Code Section 48-911.01, persons caught smoking weed in public risk up to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500. In many cases, first-time offenders may be asked to engage in community service to get their sentence dismissed. Marijuana users must be careful to avoid these penalties as the District is still being overseen by the federal government, especially as the capital city of the United States. In the District of Columbia, a person can carry weed weighing less than 2 ounces around in their motor vehicle. However, note that federal officers can still arrest such an individual for possessing any amount of marijuana. However, D.C. police will not do so, provided the weed is tucked away in a sealed container.

Can I Leave D.C. with Cannabis?

No, because it is a federal offense to do so. Leaving the District of Columbia to another state can put anyone in serious legal trouble regardless of if the destination state has legalized marijuana or not. Per Section 812 of Title 21 in the U.S. Code, marijuana is a controlled substance. The federal government prohibits moving controlled substances across state lines by any transportation means, including marijuana-infused products. Traveling between state lines puts anyone embarking on such a journey within the jurisdiction of the federal government. The United States Constitution empowers the federal authority to have control over state borders and every activity happening there.

According to Section 812 of Title 21 in the U.S.Code, there is no distinction between an illegal state, legal state, or medical state. Anyone who violates this section of the U.S. Code commits a federal crime and risks drug trafficking charges. The possession of 1kg or less of hash oil, 10kg or less of hashish, between 1 and 49 cannabis plants, and less than 50kg of cannabis flower is subject to penalties. For a first offense, an offender faces up to five years in federal prison and a fine between $250,000 and $1 million. A second offender earns punishment of up to 10 years jail time in federal prison and a fine between $500,000 and $2 million. These penalties apply to cannabis regardless of the amount being moved outside D.C. by an offender.

Medical patients residing in D.C. leaving the city for another weed-legal state and where medical marijuana reciprocity is being practiced need not risk packing cannabis with them. The states practicing medical marijuana reciprocity in the United States include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota. Others are Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. D.C residents can use their medical marijuana cards to purchase medical cannabis at approved dispensaries in these states and avoid the legal implications of traveling across state lines with cannabis.

Will Cannabis Affect My Driving Record in D.C.?

Yes. While the possession of under 2 ounces of marijuana for adults 21 years and older is legal in the District of Columbia, it remains illegal to drive under its influence. Initiative 71 makes no changes to the existing laws on driving under the influence of marijuana. In the District of Columbia, a person can be charged with a DUI provided there is evidence that such an individual is under the influence of marijuana. While DUI charges are still considered a misdemeanor, anyone convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana faces penalties, including monetary fines and possible jail time. In the District of Columbia, such DUI convictions eventually impact the offender's D.C. driving records. Persons with DUI offenses on their driving records in D.C. may find it difficult to secure gainful employment if at all they get one.

Can I Get a DUI if I Drive While I am High?

Yes. A person who drives under the influence of marijuana commits the same offense for driving under the influence of alcohol in D.C. Getting high or intoxicated from marijuana impairs a person's ability to operate a motor vehicle in a way that can be easily noticed. The legalization of marijuana in the District has no impact on the current impaired driving laws. Per D.C. Code Section 50-2206.11, it is still illegal for anyone intoxicated or high to be in physical control of a motor vehicle. The Office of the Attorney General prosecutes DUIs in the District of Columbia. Currently, there is no known consensus about how much marijuana needs to be in a person's system that will impair driving. With this in mind, D.C. residents are advised to stay away from operating a motor vehicle after consuming cannabis to avoid facing serious legal actions. Anyone driving a motor vehicle in D.C. by law gives implied consent to subject themself to blood or urine test if suspected to be DUI or intoxicated.

Generally, law enforcement in the District of Columbia is empowered to do random checks on motorists suspected to be impaired due to intoxication. A law enforcement officer will suspect a driver is impaired and stop them if they have reasons to believe the driver is swerving out of their lane or overspeeding. They may observe the driver's behavior, ask questions, and probably conduct a preliminary breath test and field sobriety tests to determine the level of impairment. If a person fails the sobriety or law enforcement feels convinced that an individual is high and DUI of marijuana, they will arrest and request them to take a chemical test. Chemical tests help to determine the level of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, in the body system.

Typically, before conducting a chemical test, a law enforcement officer will inform a defendant that they risk license revocation for one year should they fail to submit to testing. If the suspect fails to take the test despite persuasion, the officer has a right to revoke such a person's license and commit them to jail. The penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana in the District of Columbia are listed below:

First offense

  • A $300 fine
  • Possible jail time of up to 90 days

Second offense

  • A fine between $1,000 to $5,000
  • Jail time of not less than five days but up to one year
  • Possible community service of at least 30 days
  • Possible one-year license suspension

Third offense

  • A fine between $2,000 to $10,000
  • Jail time between ten days and one year
  • Possible community service of at least 60 days
  • Possible license suspension of 2 years

Note that there is no felony DUI charge in the District of Columbia. Regardless of how many times a person gets arrested for DUI and DWI, they only commit a misdemeanor. The potential mandatory minimum sentences for DUI cases is an indication that the District's criminal justice system takes DUI charges seriously, unlike every other misdemeanor. Under the District's law, mandatory minimum jail sentences require a judge to impose jail under certain situations. Once convicted under specific circumstances, a judge would have to impose jail even if they have reasons to believe a defendant is innocent.

Can I Buy Marijuana in D.C.?

No, except for medical purposes, and they are more expensive. Currently, the District laws do not permit the legal sale of recreational cannabis. However, there are other means of acquiring recreational marijuana without actually purchasing it. Initiative 71 allows a person 21 years and older to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis and transfer up to 1 ounce to another adult who is at least 21 years of age. Marijuana traders in the District of Columbia capitalize on this premise to "sell" recreational marijuana since they cannot do so openly in dispensaries. In most cases, residents get recreational marijuana as a gift with the purchase of other items from retail shops.

A person must have a medical marijuana card to purchase medical cannabis from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in D.C. For out-of-state visitors, Besides the medical marijuana card issued by their home state, out-of-state visitors must also provide government-issued identification (given by their home state). In addition, first-time visitors to D.C. who are medical patients in their states must provide information to contact the physician that recommended their qualification for medical marijuana.

Where Can I Buy Marijuana in D.C.?

The complication of the marijuana laws in D.C. and the fact that the sales of recreational marijuana are illegal despite the legalization of cannabis makes many residents ask: "where can I buy cannabis?" While medical patients can purchase medical marijuana from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, recreational users cannot do so. Currently, D.C. has eight licensed medical marijuana dispensaries where eligible persons can buy medical cannabis. These are:

National Holistic Healing Center

1718 Connecticut Ave. T300

Washington, DC 20009

Phone: (202) 618-5635

Anacostia Organics

2022 Martin Luther King Jr Ave. SE

Washington, DC 20020

Phone: (202) 845-8574

Capital City

1115 U Street NW

Washington, DC 20009

Phone: (202) 292-5071

Herbal Alternatives

1710 Rhode Island Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20036

Phone: (202) 618-5635

Takoma Wellness

6925 Blair Road NW

Washington, DC 20012

Phone: (202) 465-4260


4721 Sheriff Rd NE

Washington, DC 20019

Phone: (202) 388-3000

KINFOLK Dispensary

433 Massachusetts Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20001

Phone: (202) 758-3795

Typically, a buyer must look out for some things when purchasing cannabis from licensed stores to ensure whatever they buy has been verified for safety. A legitimate dispensary should provide safety testing information on the packaging. Such information may include dosage and batch number. To take no chances, request to see the certificate of analysis (COA) for each marijuana product bought.

Recreational marijuana users in D.C. can acquire the drug in the following ways:

  1. Weed shops - These shops sell regular items, and cannabis shoppers acquire them as gifts with whatever they purchase. However, they end up paying more than they ordinarily should but breaks no law since marijuana only comes as a gift.

  2. Weed delivery service - Marijuana recreational users can order weed online and get it at their doorstep.

  3. Weed pick-ups - Pick-ups involve making an appointment with a pick-up service to deliver cannabis from a store to any location.

How Much is Marijuana in D.C.?

According to several reports, the District of Columbia is the jurisdiction with the highest marijuana price in the United States. The average cost of 1 ounce of high-quality cannabis is $598. This figure is almost twice the national average price. One ounce of medium-quality marijuana costs $551, while the price of a high-quality joint (0.66 grams) is $13.92. Medium-quality joints (0.66 grams) cost $12.82 in D.C.

How Much Cannabis Can I Legally Have?

Adults 21 years and older can legally possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana in the District of Columbia. This amount is the maximum they can carry on their person or at home. Also, they can share up to 1 ounce of cannabis with other adults. However, such sharing must be without remuneration. D.C. permits adults to grow up to six cannabis plants for personal use with no more than three mature plants per time. Regardless of the number of adults in a household, they are not permitted to cultivate more than 12 marijuana plants. Only a maximum of six can be mature plants per time.

Where is Weed Legal?

State Legal Status Medicinal Recreational
Alabama Criminalized No No
Alaska Decriminalized Yes Yes
Arizona Decriminalized Yes Yes
Arkansas Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Colorado Decriminalized Yes Yes
Connecticut Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Delaware Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
District of Columbia Decriminalized Yes Yes
Florida Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Georgia Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Hawaii Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Idaho Decriminalized No No
Illinois Decriminalized Yes Yes
Indiana Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Iowa Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Kansas Decriminalized No No
Kentucky Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Louisiana Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Maine Decriminalized Yes Yes
Maryland Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Massachusetts Decriminalized Yes Yes
Michigan Decriminalized Yes Yes
Minnesota Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Mississippi Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Missouri Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Montana Decriminalized Yes Yes
Nebraska Decriminalized No Yes
Nevada Decriminalized Yes Yes
New Hampshire Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
New Jersey Decriminalized Yes Yes
New Mexico Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
New York Decriminalized Yes Yes
North Carolina Decriminalized No Yes
North Dakota Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Ohio Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
Oklahoma Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Oregon Decriminalized Yes Yes
Pennsylvania Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Rhode Island Partly Decriminalized Yes Yes
South Carolina Decriminalized No No
South Dakota Decriminalized Yes Yes
Tennessee Decriminalized No No
Texas Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Utah Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Vermont Decriminalized Yes Yes
Virginia Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil Yes
Washington Decriminalized Yes Yes
West Virginia Partly Decriminalized Yes No
Wisconsin Partly Decriminalized Accepts only CBD Oil No
Wyoming Decriminalized No No
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Washington DC Marijuana Limitations