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Marijuana Decriminalization in DC

Know the Facts about Marijuana in DCYou may have heard that marijuana is now legal to possess and use in the District of Columbia.

This is not true!

Know the facts about the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014.

What’s no longer a criminal violation?

On July 17, 2014, the District of Columbia law on possession of small amounts of marijuana changed. As a result, it is no longer a criminal violation for a person to:

  • Possess one ounce or less of marijuana;
  • Transfer one ounce or less of marijuana to another person, so long as there is no payment made or any other type of exchange of goods or services; or
  • Possess marijuana-related drug paraphernalia – such as bongs, cigarette rolling papers, and cigar wrappers – that are associated with one ounce or less of marijuana.

Civil fines for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Although the actions noted above are no longer criminal violations, any person found by an MPD officer to be in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana can receive a $25 ticket. Any visible marijuana or paraphernalia will be seized.

Any person(s) receiving a $25 ticket must provide their accurate name and address. If they fail to do so, they could face arrest and, upon conviction, a fine of up to $100.

If a person wishes to appeal the $25 ticket, they can follow the instructions on the ticket to file an appeal with the Office of Administrative Hearings.

What is still a criminal violation?

A person can still be arrested for:

  • Selling any amount of marijuana to another person;
  • Operating a vehicle or boat under the influence of marijuana;
  • Smoking, eating, or drinking marijuana – or holding or carrying a lighted roll of paper or other lighted smoking equipment filled with marijuana – in any public space, such as:
    • On any street, sidewalk, alley, park, or parking area;
    • In a vehicle on any street, alley, park, or parking area; or
    • Any place to which the public is invited.

Anyone arrested for using marijuana in public can, upon conviction, be sentenced up to 60 days in jail or a fine of up to $500. Prosecutions for these violations will be done by the Office of the Attorney General.

Impact on authorized medical marijuana users.

A person who has been issued a Medical Marijuana Card by the District Department of Health may continue to possess up to two ounces of medical marijuana per month. However, the use of medical marijuana in public remains a criminal offense and can result in arrest.

Enforcement by federal law enforcement agencies.

Although the District of Columbia has decriminalized possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, federal law continues to prohibit the possession or use of any amount of marijuana. As a result, federal law enforcement officers may arrest anyone in the District of Columbia for possession or use of any amount of marijuana as a violation of federal law. For example, the U.S. Park Police can arrest a person for possessing or using any marijuana on the National Mall, Rock Creek Park, or any other National Park Service land.

Prosecutions for federal law violations would be done by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.