District of Columbia

Legislation History

Washington DC voters, in November 2014, passed the Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014, or Initiative 71, making it legal within the District of Columbia for adults ages 21 and older to possess small amounts of cannabis without a medical recommendation. Nearly 65% of Washington DC 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, 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 2009, when Congress lifted a ban on Washington DC’s medical cannabis initiative.


The District of Columbia Department of Health (DCDOH) is the regulatory agency overseeing the medical cannabis program.


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.

Where is it Safe to Purchase?

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.


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


There is no tax imposed on the sale of medical cannabis.

Where is it Safe to Consume?

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


Initiative 71 made it legal, within the District of Columbia, for adults ages 21 years 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 of age can posses up to two ounces (2 oz), or 56.7 grams, of cannabis and cultivate up to six (6) plants within their residence. Regardless of how many adults living inside, a residence may not grow more than twelve (12) cannabis plants, with six (6) or fewer being mature, flowering plants.


Any adult over 21 may gift up to one ounce (1 oz), or 28.35 grams, of cannabis to another adult at least 21 years old.


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


Qualified patients who wish to participate in the medical cannabis program must complete certain steps 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.”

Application Process

  1. Complete Patient Application form. For patients younger than age 18, complete the application for minors.
  2. Submit a Physician’s’ Recommendation Form.
  3. Designate a dispensary.
  4. Designate a caregiver, if necessary.
  5. Provide two forms of proof of Washington DC residency.
  6. Payment of a $100 application fee.


Patients who require assistance obtaining or using medical cannabis may designate a caregiver. They are required to choose one (1) 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 (1) 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 proof of Washington DC residency.
  4. Payment of a $100 application fee.


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


The following state programs are eligible for reciprocity:

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • Oregon
  • Washington

Lab Testing

There is currently no lab testing required by the District of Columbia.


This page was last updated on May 17, 2018.