District of Columbia

Is weed legal in Washington, D.C.?

Yes, weed is legal for medical and adult-use purposes in Washington, D.C. However, only registered patients can purchase medical cannabis in D.C. 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.

Legislative history

In November 2014, Washington, D.C. 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 ages 21 and older to possess small amounts of cannabis without a medical recommendation in the District of Columbia. Nearly 65% of Washington, D.C. 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 United States Congress passed the Barr Amendment to effectively block implementation of medical cannabis within the District of Columbia.


As a result, the first medical marijuana sale didn’t take place until 2013, after Congress lifted the amendment banning D.C.’s medical cannabis initiative. The District of Columbia Department of Health (DCDOH) is the regulatory agency overseeing the medical cannabis program. 

Where is it safe to purchase weed in DC?

Unless you are a registered patient, it is not legal to purchase weed in DC. Under Initiative 59, a patient or caregiver shall 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 DCDOH website.   


There are currently no delivery services available to patients other than via a designated caregiver.


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

Where is it safe to consume?

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

Possession of weed in DC

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


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

How Old Do I Need
to Be to Consume?
Possession Limit
for Flower
Possession Limit
for Concentrates

Medical marijuana program

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 DCDOH.

Application process

  1. Complete Patient Application form. For patients younger than age 18, parents or guardians must complete the application for minors.
  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, D.C. residency. There are 10 possible forms of proof to select from.
  6. Payment of a $100 application fee. Proof to qualify for a reduced application fee is listed on the DCDOH website.


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 demonstrating proofs of residency in Washington, D.C.
  4. Payment of a $100 application fee. If you qualify for the reduced application fee, the forms may be accessed on the DCDOH website.


As of April 13, 2018, the DCDOH will accept out-of-district patients with a valid medical marijuana identification card from states with a program functionally equivalent to the DC Medical Marijuana Program.

Lab testing

The Medical Marijuana Reciprocity Act, which became effective February 17, 2017, added requirements for cannabis testing labs. The act requires testing for the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD); whether the tested material is organic or non-organic; the presence and concentration of fertilizers and other nutrients; and other information that the department requires.


Individuals seeking to become registered directors, officers, members, incorporators, or agents in a medical marijuana enterprise must follow the instructions outlined by the DCDOH:

  1. Print and complete the application
  2. Include a copy of a medical marijuana training and education certificate
  3. Include two recent, identical passport-size photos of the applicant’s face
  4. Provide a copy of the organization’s business license
  5. Submit application and payment to Health Regulation and Licensing Administration
  6. Make registration and permit fees payable to the DC Treasurer
  7. Schedule a criminal background check


This page was last updated September 25, 2020.