Washington D.C. Cannabis Laws + Possession Limits

by Kat Austin February 07, 2024 5 min read

Washington D.C. Cannabis Laws + Possession Limits - Vida Optima™

In recent years, Washington D.C. has emerged as a focal point for discussions surrounding cannabis legislation, with significant strides made towards both medical and recreational legalization. Understanding the intricate framework of these laws can be complex, but fear not, as we delve into the specifics of Washington D.C. 's cannabis regulations, covering possession limits, cultivation allowances, penalties, and the evolving landscape of medical marijuana within the capital.

Let's embark on a journey through the intricacies of Washington D.C.'s cannabis laws, exploring the nuances that define the landscape of marijuana usage and distribution within the district.

Table of Contents
Is Cannabis Legal in Washington?
Washington Cannabis Laws
Penalties for Marijuana-Related Crimes
Where to Buy Cannabis Online

Key Takeaways

  • Marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use in Washington D.C., with possession limits and cultivation allowances established by law.
  • While recreational cannabis sales are not yet operational, medical marijuana dispensaries provide access to cannabis products for registered patients.
  • Violating marijuana laws in Washington D.C. can result in fines, imprisonment, and other legal consequences, highlighting the importance of understanding and adhering to regulations.

Is Cannabis Legal in Washington D.C.?

Cannabis flower grown outdoor for legal cannabis market in Washington DC

Thanks to initiatives like Initiative 71 of the 2014 citizen's bill, marijuana is now legal for both medical and recreational purposes in Washington D.C. Adults aged 21 and above can possess and use cannabis in private spaces. Recreational use and medical use patients may be subject to different limits and laws, as outlined below:

Regulations for Adult Use

up to two ounces of cannabis, share up to one ounce with another adult, and cultivate up to six cannabis plants, with restrictions on the number of mature flowering plants. 

  • Possess up to two ounces of cannabis flower
  • Share up to one ounce of cannabis with another adult without receiving payment
  • Cultivate up to 6 plants, with only three being mature flowering plants, or up to twelve plants (with 6 being mature) in a household with two or more adults. 
  • Use cannabis in private spaces 

Regulations for Medical Use

In Washington D.C., medical cannabis is legal for those with a medical card. Medical patients enjoy the same rights as adult use consumers, but may also:

  • Buy and possess up to two ounces, or up to four ounces in some localities. 
  • Use cannabis if under the age of 21 with a doctor's recommendation. Users under 18 must designate a caregiver to purchase and administer cannabis. 
  • Consume cannabis in a private residence or approved medical facility. 

Qualifying Conditions for Medical Cannabis in Washington DC 

In Washington DC, a doctor can recommend cannabis for:

  • ​​Cancer
  • Position status for human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity 
  • Epilepsy 
  • Neuropathies
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Crohn’s disease 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder 
  • Intractable seizures
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain
  • Terminal illness that is defined as a medical prognosis of life expectancy of approximately one year or less if the illness runs its normal course​


In Washington D.C., licensed cannabis stores sell marijuana within specified limits. Possession exceeding these amounts is illegal for adults and medical marijuana patients. Other restrictions include:

  • Cannabis cannot be possessed or consumed on federal properties.
  • Commercial cannabis activities are restricted to licensed entities.
  • Consumption is limited to private residences; public spaces are off-limits.
  • Delivery of marijuana, even medicinal, is not allowed in the area. 

Washington D.C. Cannabis Laws

Over the years, Washington D.C. has seen the implementation of various laws and initiatives aimed at regulating the sale and use of cannabis:

How Cannabis is Sold in Washington D.C.

While recreational cannabis sales are legal in Washington D.C., the district is still navigating the establishment of a regulated market. 

Residents can possess and cultivate cannabis for personal use, but purchasing recreational cannabis from licensed dispensaries is not yet operational. However, medical marijuana dispensaries provide access to cannabis products for registered patients, implementing strict verification processes to ensure compliance with possession limits and regulations.

Penalties for Marijuana-related Crimes in Washington D.C.


  • Adults 21 and older may possess up to two ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants in their primary residence without penalty.
  • Transfer without payment of up to one ounce of marijuana to another adult is permitted.

Public Use:

  • Public use of marijuana is a misdemeanor but generally handled through a cite and release procedure.

Sale, Distribution, Intent to Distribute, and Cultivation:

  • Adults may cultivate up to six marijuana plants without penalty.
  • Not-for-profit transactions involving small amounts are permitted.
  • Distribution, manufacture, or possession with intent to distribute may result in imprisonment for up to 5 years, a fine of up to $50,000, or both.
  • First-time offenders caught with half a pound or less may face up to 6 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Distribution to Minors:

  • Penalty doubled for distributing to minors.

Enlistment of Minors:

  • Enlisting a minor to distribute a controlled substance can lead to up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Distribution Near Specific Locations:

  • Penalty doubled for distribution near specified areas such as schools and public housing.

Hash & Concentrates:

  • Possession of hashish punishable by up to 180 days imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Manufacturing or selling hashish punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $50,000.


  • Possession or sale permitted for individuals 21 and older for marijuana use.
  • Violations may lead to imprisonment for up to 30 days, a fine of up to $100, or both.
  • Subsequent violations may result in imprisonment for up to 2 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.


  • Various items used in violation of drug laws are subject to forfeiture, including controlled substances, equipment, vehicles, cash, and real property.

Legal Cannabis and Buy Online Alternatives

Although cannabis is legal in many states, hemp-derived THC products are still rising as a noteworthy alternative thanks to their affordability and accessibility. Hemp-derived THC products are federally legal, unlike traditional marijuana products, meaning they can often be ordered online and shipped right to your door. 

Read “Is Delta-8 Legal? A State by State Guide to Delta-8-THC Laws” to learn more about hemp THC laws near you, then check out our Elev8 and Cloud9 Collections

Vida Optima Cloud9 Gummies

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