District of Columbia
Last Update: November 4, 2014
D.C. voters legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older
On November 4, D.C. voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 71, which will legalize the limited possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults who are 21 or older. Please note that it does not change federal law — under which marijuana is still strictly prohibited — and it will not go into effect unless it clears a 30-day Congressional review. For more details about the measure, see MPP’s summary.
While there is much cause for celebration, passage of I-71 is just the first step. Congressional review will not end until February or March 2015. In addition, the initiative does not create a legal, regulated market for marijuana. Please encourage your councilmembers to create such a system.
Congratulations to the Yes on 71 campaign, the Drug Policy Alliance, and everyone else who worked on and voted for this historic effort.
D.C. Council passes, Mayor Gray signs emergency legislation to temporarily amend the medical marijuana program
On July 29, D.C. Mayor Vince Gray signed the Medical Marijuana Expansion Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 — legislation that temporarily expands and improves upon the District’s medical marijuana program! D.C. physicians may now recommend marijuana for any debilitating condition they think would respond favorably to the therapeutic use of marijuana, and licensed medical marijuana cultivators may possess 500 plants. This legislation will expire on October 27, so please email your councilmember and ask her or him to support making these changes permanent.
Physicians may now recommend medical marijuana to those suffering from PTSD, chronic pain, and a host of other conditions that are currently not on the list of qualifying conditions, but that have been shown to benefit from marijuana. Increasing the number of plants regulated cultivators may possess ensures that our seriously ill friends and neighbors have access to the medicine their physicians think will work best for them. Although this legislation is only temporary, it gives the council the time it needs to enact a permanent solution.
If you have a debilitating condition and would like to know more about medical marijuana in the District, talk to your doctor and visit the District Department of Health’s medical marijuana program website. You can also contact any of the three dispensaries operating in D.C.: Metropolitan Wellness Center at Eastern Market, Capital City Care on North Capitol Street, and Takoma Wellness Center in Takoma Park.
D.C. decriminalization bill takes effect
On July 17, the marijuana decriminalization bill approved by the D.C. Council and signed by Mayor Vincent Gray officially took effect! The new law, sponsored by Ward 6 councilmember Tommy Wells, removes all criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and replaces them with a civil fine of $25. In addition, the simple smell of marijuana no longer gives a police officer grounds to conduct a search of an individual. In other words, outside of Colorado and Washington, our nation’s capital has the least punitive marijuana laws in the country. For more information on the measure, please see our overview of the ordinance.
It is important to note that this is only a change in District law, not federal law. Marijuana possession on federal lands, including the National Mall, is still a criminal offense and violators may be arrested and prosecuted.
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