Is weed legal in Washington D.C.? Yes, cannabis is legal for both recreational and medical use. Despite being legal, weed isn't so easy to come by in the country's capital. Federal laws have trumped local laws making buying weed difficult for adult users. While you can buy weed in the district, you might have to go through some hoops. If you're interested in getting cannabis in Washington D.C., here's what you need to know.
Is Recreational Cannabis Legal in D.C?
Washington D.C. voters approved Initiative 71 in 2014 to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. After passing with a 64.87 percent approval rate, the bill went into effect on February 26, 2015. The law states that adults over 21 years of age can have up to two ounces of cannabis. That means that police officers can't arrest you for cannabis possession. Adults can grow up to three mature and three immature plants at home. Adults can transfer up to one ounce of pot to another person. That's how much of the adult-use market works in the district.
Despite voter approval, Congress opposed Initiative 71's efforts to legalize weed. Due to the federal law’s prohibition of the drug, Congress declared commercial sales against the law. In December 2014, Congress passed a spending bill that included a provision targeting D.C.’s Initiative 71. The amendment included language that barred using funds to support laws dealing with cannabis or a controlled substance. For this reason, you can't buy cannabis in D.C. through traditional means.
Washington D.C. is a district, not a state and the federal government owns much of its land area. In fact, the federal government controls 29 percent of its total land area. Smoking in public is against the law in many states with legal weed including Washington D.C. In D.C., however, you are able to walk around with a couple of ounces of pot in most areas. However, you are breaking the law if you’re carrying on federally-owned land. Federal land includes national parks, military sites, and other lands.
Is Medical Cannabis Legal in Washington D.C?
Yes, medical cannabis use is legal in Washington D.C. Voters approved Initiative 59 in 1998 with a 69 percent approval rate. Lawmakers didn't set up medical regulations right away. Congressional approval of the Barr Amendment banned D.C. from using funds to support the program. Congress overturned the Barr Amendment in 2009 opening the door for medical cannabis sales. Medical cannabis sales in Washington D.C. started in 2013.
In May 2010, the Council of the District of Columbia passed a bill to legalize medical pot. Since Congress didn’t overrule the bill within 30 days, the bill became legal on January 1, 2011. Under the law, patients can get a medical card to buy weed from licensed dispensaries.
How to Get a Medical Cannabis Card in DC
Qualifying patients are able to buy and use cannabis for medical purposes. A doctor can provide you with a written recommendation if you have a qualifying condition. The first step toward getting a card is booking an appointment with a licensed physician. If approved, you’ll receive a doctor's recommendation number to register online or by mail.
A medical cannabis card can last one year from the date of issue. You can renew your card every year before the expiration date. To register with the Department of Health, you’ll need to submit the following items:
- Social security number
- Two recent passport photos
- Photocopy of a U.S., state, or district government-issued ID
- Application fee ($100)
- Low-income application fee ($25) with proof
- Two forms of proof of residency
- Doctor's recommendation
You can submit your application online or by mail. For paper application submissions, send them to this address:
DC HEALTH-Medical Marijuana Program
899 North Capitol Street NE 2nd Floor
Washington D.C., 20002
Qualifying Conditions and Treatments
- Conditions marked by severe and persistent muscle spasms, such as multiple sclerosis
- Any chronic or debilitating condition that can’t be treated by conventional measures
- Use of azidothymidine or protease inhibitors
- Any treatment whose side effects would benefit from medical cannabis use
How to Buy Cannabis in Washington D.C
For now, one of the few ways to get weed in Washington D.C. is to get a medical marijuana card. A medical card lets you visit any of its seven dispensaries. Dispensaries include Capital City, Herbal Alternatives, Takoma Wellness, Anacostia Organics, and more. You can also obtain cannabis as a gift from a friend who grows their own pot since home grows are legal.
One of the best ways to get cannabis without a medical cannabis card is to get it as a gift. How do you get it as a gift? Great question. You can buy other products such as apparel, pipes, and more to get gifted weed. While commercial sales are illegal, you can give an adult up to an ounce of weed. That means that if you buy something at a shop or event, you may get buds as a “gift.”
Is Hemp and CBD Legal in DC?
Hemp-derived products and CBD are legal in Washington D.C. Cannabis-derived CBD is only available from licensed dispensaries. The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp cultivation legal across the country. Many states have passed hemp regulations to boost their industries. The country’s capital hasn't created any specific hemp legislation.
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