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A Guide to Cannabis Regulations in Washington, DC

Cannabis laws in Washington, DC, have evolved significantly in recent years, making it essential for residents and visitors to stay informed about the current regulations. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the legal landscape for cannabis in DC, including possession, purchasing, consumption, and penalties.

Legal Framework

Washington, DC, has a unique legal status regarding cannabis due to its federal jurisdiction. While cannabis remains illegal under federal law, DC has implemented its regulations allowing the possession, use, and cultivation of cannabis for adults over 21.

Possession and Purchasing Limits


  • Adults 21 and over can legally possess up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of cannabis.

  • Individuals can also have up to 6 cannabis plants, with no more than 3 being mature and flowering at any time.

  • Medical cannabis patients can possess up to 4 ounces (113 grams) of dried cannabis or its equivalent within 30 days.


  • Recreational cannabis sales are not permitted due to Congress's restriction on commercial sales.

  • Medical cannabis can be purchased from licensed dispensaries by registered patients.

  • Adults can "gift" up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of cannabis to another adult, provided no monetary exchange occurs.

Consumption Rules

Public Consumption:

  • Consuming cannabis in public spaces, including streets, parks, and businesses, is illegal.

  • Public consumption can result in fines or other penalties.

Private Property:

  • Cannabis consumption is permitted on private property, including homes and private residences.

  • Landlords have the right to prohibit cannabis use on their property.

Designated Consumption Areas:

  • Currently, there are no legal cannabis consumption lounges or designated areas in DC.

Medical Cannabis Program


  • To qualify for medical cannabis, patients must have a recommendation from a DC-licensed physician.

  • Qualifying conditions include chronic pain, HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and other debilitating medical conditions.


  • Patients must register with the DC Department of Health to receive a medical cannabis card.

  • The registration process involves submitting an application, a physician's recommendation, and a fee.


  • Licensed dispensaries provide medical cannabis to registered patients.

  • Dispensaries offer various products, including flowers, edibles, tinctures, and topicals.

Penalties for Violations


  • Possession of more than the legal limit of 2 ounces (56 grams) can result in fines and potential imprisonment.

  • Unauthorized possession by individuals under 21 is subject to fines and community service.

Public Consumption:

  • Public consumption of cannabis can result in a fine of up to $25.

  • Repeat offenders may face increased penalties.


  • Unauthorized distribution or sale of cannabis is illegal and can result in significant fines and imprisonment.

  • "Gifting" cannabis must adhere to the 1-ounce (28 grams) limit and cannot involve any exchange of goods or services.

Transportation and Travel

Within DC:

  • Cannabis can be transported within DC as long as it remains within the legal possession limits.

  • It must be kept in a sealed container and not consumed while driving.

Across State Lines:

  • Transporting cannabis across state lines is illegal, regardless of the destination state's cannabis laws.

  • Violations can result in federal charges and severe penalties.

Employment and Cannabis Use

Drug Testing:

  • Employers in DC may implement drug testing policies and take action based on cannabis use.

  • Medical cannabis patients have limited protections, but recreational users may face employment consequences.

Workplace Policies:

  • Employers can prohibit cannabis use during work hours and on company property.

  • Employees should be aware of their employer's policies regarding cannabis use and drug testing.

Federal Property and Cannabis

  • Cannabis use and possession are strictly prohibited on federal property, including national parks, government buildings, and military installations.

  • Violations on federal property can result in federal charges and penalties.

Future Developments

Washington, DC's cannabis laws continue to evolve, with ongoing discussions about commercial sales and consumption lounges. Staying informed about legislative changes and new regulations is crucial for compliance and responsible use.


Understanding the cannabis regulations in Washington, DC, is essential for responsible use and compliance with the law. While the city offers a progressive stance on cannabis, knowing the limits and rules is crucial. Stay informed, respect the regulations, and enjoy the benefits of cannabis legally and safely.


1. Is it legal to buy recreational cannabis in DC?  No, recreational cannabis sales are not permitted, but adults can possess and gift small amounts.

2. Where can I legally consume cannabis in DC?  Cannabis consumption is allowed on private property but not in public spaces.

3. How many cannabis plants can I grow at home?  Adults can grow up to 6 plants, with no more than 3 being mature and flowering.

4. Can I transport cannabis across state lines?  No, transporting cannabis across state lines is illegal and can result in federal penalties.

5. Do I need a medical card to buy cannabis in DC?  Yes, to purchase medical cannabis, you must be a registered patient with a valid medical card.



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