Is THC Legal in Washington DC?

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What is THC?

THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive compound found in cannabis. THC is the compound that makes cannabis consumers feel “high,” and it is present in both marijuana and hemp plants. In marijuana, THC levels can be as high as 35%, while it must not exceed 0.3% in hemp. THC has several isomers, which are variants of the compound with a similar chemical structure but different arrangements of atoms. Most THC isomers are synthetically produced because they are not naturally present in large amounts in the cannabis plant. Notable isomers of THC include:

  • Delta-7 THC
  • Delta-8 THC
  • Delta-10 THC
  • THC-O
  • HHC
  • THCV
  • THC-P


Is THC Legal in Washington DC?

Yes, THC is legal in Washington DC for medical and recreational use. Medical marijuana was legalized for residents of Washington DC when Title 7, Chapter 16B of the DC Code was passed in 2010. Qualifying patients in DC are allowed to possess up to 2 oz of THC products. Recreational marijuana was legalized in 2014 for adults aged 21 years and older after DC voters approved Initiative 71.

How Much THC is in Weed?

Weed is known to have a high level of THC. Weed THC potency has increased exponentially since the 1960s and 1970s. The rise in THC potency can be attributed to factors such as the demand for highly potent marijuana strains and the spread of THC products like concentrates and edibles. The National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) analyzed weed samples seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and found that the THC potency of the confiscated weed was 15.37% in 2021.

Common strains of weed sold in licensed dispensaries across the U.S. and their average THC level include the following:

  • A-Dub: 28% THC
  • Chocolate OG: 30% THC
  • Banana Kush: 27% THC
  • Grease Monkey: 31% THC
  • Lemon Meringue: 21% THC
  • Yoda OG: 24% THC
  • Bruce Banner: 30% THC
  • Mandarin Cookies: 26% THC

In Washington DC, cannabis products must carry labels accurately stating the percentage of THC and THCA they contain. THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is the chemical compound that precedes THC. THC is only activated when cannabis products, like smokable flowers, are exposed to fire or heat. THCA is non-psychoactive, unlike THC. A product label can show either the "total THC" or the "total THC potency". Total THC refers to the amount of THC that the cannabis product will contain upon being set aflame or exposed to warm temperatures.

Other types of THC compounds present in weed include:

  • Delta-9 THC
  • THCV
  • THCV
  • THC-P
  • Delta-7 THC
  • Delta-8 THC
  • Delta-10 THC

Washington DC THC Laws 2024

Under Washington DC laws, the medical and recreational use of THC products is legal. Patients registered under the District's medical cannabis program can access up to 2 oz of THC products. Persons aged 21 or over can buy up to 2 oz of marijuana-derived THC products and grow up to six marijuana plants at home. Households with more than one adult may only grow up to 12 marijuana plants for recreational use.

In compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived products with a THC level of 0.3% or less can be sold to qualifying patients in the District. In 2022, DC lawmakers enacted the Medical Marijuana Self-Certification Emergency Amendment Act. This law permits Washington DC residents aged 21 years and over to be certified for medical marijuana and THC products without a doctor's recommendation.

What is the Legal Limit for THC While Driving in Washington DC?

Under Washington DC law, it is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle while impaired by THC. The threshold for marijuana impairment in Washington DC is 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Persons convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of THC the first time face a prison sentence of up to 180 days and/or a fine of $1,000. Second-time offenders face a penalty of 12 months in prison and/or a fine of between $2,500 and $5,000.

Will THC Show Up in a Drug Test?

THC metabolites can show up in drug tests, and the possibility depends on a number of factors. These include:

  • The type of drug test used to analyze the sample
  • The amount of THC in the cannabis product consumed or ingested
  • The frequency of THC consumption
  • The consumer's body-mass index (BMI)
  • The consumer’s metabolic rate

How Long Does THC Stay in the Body?

THC metabolites can stay in the body for varying periods, ranging from several hours to many days. After the liver converts THC into THC-COOH glucuronide, about 65% of the metabolites are excreted in fecal matter, while up to 20% are eliminated in urine. The remaining THC metabolites will be stored in different body parts and fluids. Below outlines how long THC metabolites can stay in the body and remain detectable by drug tests:

  • Hair: THC traces can stay in hair follicles for a period of 90 days after the last use
  • Urine: THC traces can remain in urine for up to 30 days
  • Saliva: THC metabolites can be found in saliva for up to 24 hours after the last consumption
  • Blood: THC metabolites can be detected in the blood for up to 12 hours after consumption

What is THC Oil?

THC oil is a product made from raw marijuana plants. The crystalline oil is obtained from plant matter by means of solvents such as butane or heptane, using non-solvents such as hot water, or by supercritical CO2 extraction.

THC oil is made using marijuana extracts, while CBD oil is made using extracts from industrial hemp. THC oil is psychoactive because of its source, but CBD oil does not induce any psychoactive effects. THC oil is processed into soft gels, tinctures, gummies, vapes, butter, and food additives. It is also used as a cooking oil. Qualifying patients who do not want smokable cannabis may use THC oil as an alternative.

What is THC Distillate?

THC distillate refers to a highly refined product made from marijuana plant material. Processors of THC distillate remove lipids, waxes, terpenes, and flavonoids in the cannabis plant in order to make a product with high THC concentration.

THC distillate and THC oil are different. While THC distillate is highly refined, THC oil contains many of the original marijuana compounds, such as terpenes, lipids, and flavonoids. THC distillate is made from marijuana and is intensely psychoactive. CBD distillate is processed using industrial hemp and does not produce any psychoactive effects.

THC distillate can be consumed in the form of tinctures or vapes. Some consumers add drops of THC distillate to smokable cannabis flowers in order to enhance the smoking experience. THC distillate is also used in edible products such as brownies and sublingual capsules.

Where to Buy THC in Washington DC

Washington DC residents can only buy Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC products from licensed dispensaries. Only medical marijuana patients are allowed to purchase THC products from the dispensaries operating in the District. It is also possible to order Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC products online. Licensed cannabis dispensaries offer THC products such as tinctures, oils, gummies, and edibles.

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