District of Columbia

Is weed legal in Washington, D.C.?

Yes, weed is legal for medical and adult-use purposes in Washington. However, only registered patients can purchase medical cannabis in the district. All other sales and purchases are illegal.

All patients who qualify for the program must have a recommendation from a healthcare practitioner in order to obtain medical cannabis. Patients with a qualifying medical condition, or the side effects of a qualifying medical treatment, may receive a medical recommendation.

Legislation history

In November 2014, Washington, DC voters passed the Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014, or Initiative 71. This act made it legal for adults age 21 and older to possess small amounts of cannabis without a medical recommendation in the District of Columbia. Nearly 65% of voters approved Initiative 71.

Before Initiative 71, possession or use of marijuana without a physician's recommendation was prohibited under the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998, or Initiative 59. Although Initiative 59 was approved by 69% of voters in 1998, the US Congress passed the Barr Amendment to effectively block the implementation of medical cannabis within the district.

As a result, the first medical marijuana sale didn't take place until 2013, after Congress lifted the amendment banning Washington's medical cannabis initiative. The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) is the regulatory agency overseeing the medical cannabis program. 

Where is it safe to purchase weed in Washington, D.C.?

Unless you are a registered patient, it is not legal to purchase weed in Washington. Under Initiative 59, a patient or caregiver can only purchase or consume medical cannabis from the registered dispensary designated on their patient registration identification card. You can find a list of currently registered dispensaries on the ABRA website. Patients and their caregivers can purchase up to 4 ounces in a 30-day period.

There is no tax imposed on the sale of medical cannabis in Washington, DC.

Finding licensed dispensaries in Washington, D.C.

Medical marijuana cardholders can find licensed dispensaries in Washington. Some dispensaries in Washington offer delivery and curbside pickup services in addition to storefront sales.

Where is it safe to consume?

Consumption of medical cannabis in the district is limited to the patient's home or private property. The use of medical marijuana in public remains a criminal offense.

Possessing cannabis

Initiative 71 made it legal for adults 21 and older to possess small amounts of cannabis and related paraphernalia regardless of medical recommendation.

Patients, caregivers, and adults at least 21 years old can possess up to 2 ounces (56.7 grams) of cannabis and cultivate up to six plants within their residence. Regardless of how many adults living there, a residence may not grow more than 12 cannabis plants, with six or fewer being mature, flowering plants.

Medical marijuana in D.C.

Qualifying patients who wish to participate in the medical cannabis program must complete the application process to become eligible.

Qualifying conditions

The Medical Marijuana Expansion Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 defines a qualifying medical condition as, “any condition for which treatment with medical marijuana would be beneficial, as determined by the patient's physician.” Those wishing to become medical marijuana certification providers must apply with the ABRA.

Application process

  1. Complete Patient Application form. For patients younger than age 18, parents or guardians must complete the application.
  2. Submit a Physician's Recommendation Form.
  3. Designate a dispensary.
  4. Designate a caregiver, if necessary. The application and process can be accessed here.
  5. Provide two forms of proof of Washington residency. 
  6. Pay a $100 application fee or provide proof of being a current Medicaid or DC Alliance recipient or documentation verifying total gross income.

Caregiving

Patients who require assistance obtaining or using medical cannabis may designate a caregiver. They are required to choose one dispensary from which a designated caregiver can purchase medical cannabis. Caregivers must be at least 18 years old and may only provide care for one patient. Approved caregivers can purchase medical cannabis at their patient's designated dispensary, as well as possess, transport, and administer their patient's medical marijuana once purchased.

Application process

  1. Complete a Caregiver Application Form.
  2. Complete a criminal background check.
  3. Provide two forms of proof of Washington, DC residency.
  4. Pay a $100 application fee or provide proof of being a current Medicaid or DC Alliance recipient or documentation verifying total gross income.

Reciprocity

The district allows medical marijuana cardholders from some states to purchase and possess medical marijuana. ABRA maintains a list of states that qualify for reciprocity

Lab testing

The Medical Marijuana Reciprocity Amendment Act, which became effective in February  2017, added requirements for cannabis testing labs. The act requires testing for: 

  • Cannabinoids and potency
  • Whether the cannabis is organic
  • “The presence and concentration of fertilizers and other nutrients”

The act also left it open for ABRA to require additional testing and labeling but the department hasn't publicized that information.

Frequently asked questions

When was marijuana legalized in DC? 

In November 2014, Washington, DC voters passed the Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014, or Initiative 71. This act made it legal for adults 21 and older to possess small amounts of cannabis without a medical recommendation.

Where in Washington DC is pot legal?

It's legal everywhere in the district for medical marijuana patients and caregivers. Consumption is legal in private.

What are the laws for marijuana delivery companies in DC?

Marijuana delivery was initially illegal in DC but has been allowed since the Covid-19 pandemic by a series of emergency orders. Only DC registered patients and their caregivers are allowed to receive deliveries at addresses within the district.

What is the legal limit of marijuana in DC?

Medical marijuana patients and their caregivers can purchase up to 4 ounces of marijuana in a 30-day period and possess up to 2 ounces at any time.

How can I get legal weed in DC?

If you are a medical marijuana patient you can get legal weed at a licensed dispensary.

This page was last updated February 17, 2021.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on February 19, 2021.