Medical cannabis has been legal in Washington D.C. for almost 20 years, and in November 2014, voters in D.C. legalized recreational cannabis for adults 21 and older by passing Initiative 71. The Initiative, also known as the Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of cannabis for Personal Use Initiative, legalized limited possession and cultivation. It also failed to provision for sales. The legalization does not apply to federal property, which leaves a lot of Washington D.C. excluded from the law.

Under Initiative 71, an individual 21 or older can possess up to two ounces of cannabis for personal use and can grow no more than six cannabis plants with 3 or fewer being mature, within the person’s principal residence. The Initiative also allows an individual to transfer without payment (but not sell) up to one ounce of cannabis to another person 21 years of age or older. It also allows adults to use or sell drug paraphernalia related to the use, growing, or processing of cannabis or cannabis.

The Initiative provisions the use of cannabis on private property. However, it is still not allowed on public grounds or federal property. Public consumption is a civil penalty with a max fine of up to $100 and police are always on the lookout to write people up for DUIs.

The best advice we can give to tourists looking to partake in the cannabis culture is discretion. It’s best to keep your cannabis use out of public areas, but if you must smoke out in the open, a discreet vape pen is your best option.

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Washington D.C. FAQ

Is cannabis legal in Washington D.C?

Yes. Medical cannabis is legal, and recreational cannabis for adults 21 and older was legalized in November 2014.

Can I get my Medical Card if I am not a Washington D.C Resident?

No, you cannot get your medical cannabis card if you are not a Washington D.C. resident, this makes us sad!

Where can I buy it?

Although you cannot buy medical cannabis at gas stations yet, currently you can buy it at many dispensaries located across the District. As for recreational purchases, Initiative 71 did not provision for the sale of cannabis and someone can still be arrested for selling any amount of recreational cannabis to another person.

What do you need to purchase cannabis in a cannabis shop?

There are currently no recreational cannabis shops open in Washington D.C., so the only way to purchase cannabis legally is at a medical dispensary. For that, you need a medical card, which you can get from specific doctors in the state.

When state-licensed recreational stores begin to open up, customers will need a valid form of government-issued identification proving that they are over the age of 21.

What types of cannabis will the stores sell?

You will see a number of different flower strains categorized by their strains ranging from strong Indicas to strong Sativas and everything in between. Each strain can have different effects so be sure to ask the budtender for assistance in choosing the best cannabis for you. Strong Sativas strains are known for their general uplifting, energizing, and head high effects while Indicas are known for their full body highs and sedative effects.
Dispensaries will also sell a number of other types of cannabis products, including but not limited to:

  • Concentrates essential oils of the cannabis plant. Warning: these can be very potent!
  • Edibles: Cannabis-infused foods, candies, or drinks. Warning: These can be very potent! Be sure to check the serving size before enjoying and remember the effects can take up to an hour to hit you.
  • Transdermal Products: creams, lotions, massage oils, and such infused with cannabis. These products are not psychoactive and will not get you high.
  • Seeds: seeds that can be used to grow your own cannabis plants. Stores will have many different strains of Indicas and Sativas.
  • Clones: healthy seedlings that are ready to be grown.

How much will cannabis cost?

The price of cannabis depends on strain and quality, but you can expect cannabis prices to be between $10 and $30 per gram. D.C. law forbids imposing a tax via the ballot initiative process, so Initiative 71 does not set up a Colorado-like system of taxing and regulating the production and adult retail sales of cannabis.

How much cannabis can I have?

Under Initiative 71, adults 21 and older may possess up to two ounces or less of cannabis and cultivate up to six cannabis plants, with no more than three flowerings at once. It allows for transfer without payment (but not sale) up to one ounce of cannabis to another person 21 years of age or older. It also permits the use or sale of drug paraphernalia related to use, growing, or processing of cannabis or cannabis. It will be up to each dispensary/retail shop to decide how much they will sell at one time.

Washington DC has decriminalized less than 1 ounce of cannabis for personal use, and its maximum fine is $25.

Can I take my purchase home if I live in another state or country?

No. All cannabis and cannabis products purchased in Washington D.C. must be consumed in Washington D.C.

Where can I consume my recent purchase?

Legally, you can only consume in private as provisioned by Initiative 71. However, at many events in Washington D.C, you will see citizens openly consuming in public as a form of civil disobedience, and walking around you will most likely see someone violating the public consumption law. If you must partake in public, a vape pen is your most discreet option.

What is a dab?

Dabs are often compared to the hard liquor of the cannabis world and can be found in many forms. Dabs are the essential oils and waxes of the cannabis plant that are extracted and concentrated into a potent wax form. They are known for their high concentration of THC. Smoking a dab is much stronger than smoking flowers. If you are not a regular cannabis consumer with a high tolerance, we recommend using extreme caution.

If you’re considering purchasing or doing a dab, it is also important to know what is in the essential oil being offered or sold and if it is safe. Many extracts may not have been purged correctly and may contain residual amounts of butane or other solvents. CO2 oil is often noted as the safest oil because critical extraction machines that use CO2 as the only solvent extract it.

Are the topicals going to get me stoned?

Topicals are a form of cannabis-infused into a cream, soap, or other product that you can rub into your skin, and to our knowledge topicals do not have a psychoactive effect. Do not confuse topicals with transdermal patches though, which will have a psychoactive effect.

When will state-licensed stores open up?

This question is completely up in the air because Initiative 71 did not provision for the sale of cannabis. To purchase legally, residents must have a Washington D.C. medical cannabis card and visit a licensed dispensary.

If cannabis is legalized can I still get in trouble?

Yes. You can always get in trouble at the federal level until cannabis is rescheduled, but as long as you follow the laws for cannabis in Washington D.C, local authorities will not have any issues with you.

If you are a lawyer in Washington D.C. who would like to advertise your services here, please email us at