Jan 20

Initiative 71 and Marijuana Legalization


Many D.C. residents were excited last year when Initiative 71 was passed in November, legalizing the limited possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults 21 and older. However, since Initiative 71 survived congressional review, there has been ample confusion surrounding how citizens can enjoy marijuana for personal use under the limits of the new law. Here is a brief guide:

Selling any amount of marijuana is still illegal.

While an adult (21 or older) may legally possess up to two (2) ounces of marijuana, it is still illegal to buy or sell. The law does allow adults to cultivate up to six (6) marijuana plants, no more than three (3) of which are mature. Though selling marijuana remains against the law, an adult may transfer up to one ounce of marijuana to another adult so long as there is no monetary exchange.

Possession of Marijuana still violates federal law.

Since a large portion of the District is federal land, this makes transporting even legal amounts of marijuana tricky. If you are in possession of amounts allowable under D.C. law, avoid entering federally-owned property.

Consumption of marijuana in public is still against the law.

It remains a criminal offense to smoke or otherwise consume marijuana in a public space, on a street, ally, sidewalk, parking area, or in a park. Misdemeanor penalties also remain in place for consuming marijuana in a vehicle or any place where the public is invited.

It is important that you are aware of your rights. Exercise your rights under Initiative 71 responsibly. If you are charged with a marijuana-related offense, you should consult an attorney with experience in marijuana law for advice.