Updated on January 3, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
In November 2014, medical marijuana penalties in the District of Columbia — as well as penalties for recreational use — were substantially reduced when voters approved a measure that made the possession and cultivation of small amounts of weed legal for people 21 years and older. The measure also provided medical cannabis patients access to all dispensaries in the D.C. area rather than just one.
Residents are allowed to legally possess up to two ounces of weed, whether or not they are using it for medical purposes. Medical and recreational users may also cultivate up to six plants inside their homes, as long as no more than three of those plants are mature at any one time. There are several medical cannabis dispensaries in the D.C. area, and they are allowed to not only dispense weed, but they can also grow up to 500 plants on their property at any one time. D.C. marijuana laws allow for both non-profit and for-profit dispensaries to operate.
Caregivers are allowed to transport marijuana for medicinal purposes to their patients. A patient suffering from a qualifying condition — which is any medical issue that a D.C.-licensed doctor believes can be treated with cannabis — can designate a caregiver, but the caregiver must be registered with the D.C. Department of Health. Caregivers can only be designated for one patient at a time.
While possession of two ounces of weed within a private residence is legal for adults 21 years or age or older, anyone caught with more than that amount will face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. People under the age of 21 caught with two ounces or less of marijuana will not be arrested or ticketed, but their marijuana will be seized. If someone is convicted of possessing up to a half-pound of weed, he or she will face the same penalties. If, however, that person is convicted a second or subsequent time of the same offense, that is punishable by up to five years in jail and a maximum fine of $50,000.
It remains illegal to use marijuana in any form in a public place. This includes smoking pot or using an edible product infused with cannabis. Public places include streets, parks, parking lots, sidewalks and alleys. They also include vehicles located on the street or in a parking lot, alley or park. A public place is also considered to be anywhere the public is invited to gather, such as a concert venue or a stadium that hosts sporting events.
Although D.C. law allows possession of up to two ounces of weed, the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. Federal authorities can arrest anyone for possession of any amount of weed. People who visit federal properties in D.C., such as any land owned by the National Park Service — like Rock Creek Park or the National Mall — will be risking severe punishment if federal law enforcement agents catch them with cannabis.
Even though possession is allowed in Washington, D.C., you still need to know what the laws are. You’ll also need to find a qualified marijuana doctor should you be able to benefit from medical cannabis. MarijuanaDoctors.com is your complete source for information about marijuana doctors and what the law entails.