Is Weed Legal in Washington, DC? Cannabis Laws (June 2023)

Illustration of the White House in Washington D.C
Written by Nina Julia | Last updated: June 2, 2023

This article answers the question “Is Marijuana Legal in Washington, DC?” We explore recreational and medical marijuana laws, shed light on possession limits, home cultivation, and public consumption, and discuss the legal status of hemp-derived psychoactive cannabinoids.

Looking to buy weed in Washington, DC? I have good news for you. Both recreational and medical marijuana is legal in the capital city of the United States.

Adults 21 and older can possess up to one ounce of marijuana. They can also grow cannabis at home within specified limits.

DC has a medical marijuana system for patients with qualifying medical conditions. If you’re a patient, you can possess more weed and grow more plants than recreational users.

Unfortunately, a few laws need to be rectified until I can recommend DC as a cannabis haven comparable to California or Colorado.

Here’s what you need to know about marijuana in Washington, DC.

Is Weed Legal in Washington, DC?

Yes. Cannabis possession and homegrown are legal for adults 21+. However, recreational and medical marijuana users must abide by different rules.

Related: States Where Recreational Weed Is Illegal

Is Recreational Marijuana Legal in Washington, DC?

Yes. Adults 21 and older can possess up to one ounce of marijuana in public.

You can additionally gift up to one ounce of cannabis flower or its equivalent in other forms, such as concentrates and edibles.

However, recreational sales remain illegal in Washington, DC. The law only allows gifting, which has already created loopholes, where customers buy a small insignificant item that comes with “free” marijuana products at a price.

Washington, DC, is in one-third part of the federal government, and since marijuana is prohibited on federal land, you’re not allowed to smoke marijuana everywhere in the capital.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Washington, DC?

Yes. DC residents voted for a state medical marijuana program in 1998. However, the first medical dispensaries opened in 2013, three years after DC County passed the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act.

The new law clarified the rules laid out by the 1998 legislation and paved the way for a retail sales system.

Medical marijuana patients can possess up to two ounces of flower. Unlike recreational users, they can legally buy their medicine from state-approved dispensaries.

Washington, DC, approves out-of-state medical marijuana cards. You can use your card at DC dispensaries whenever you’re in town.

Penalties for Marijuana Possession

Possession of up to 2 ounces and growing up to 6 plants have been decriminalized in Washington, DC.

Carrying more than 2 ounces is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000.

You won’t be arrested for using marijuana in public, although doing so may land you a citation.

Is Marijuana Decriminalized in Washington, DC?

Yes. You may legally possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana in DC, except for the land belonging to the federal government.

What’s the Future of Cannabis Legalization in Washington, DC?

Washington, DC, is in an awkward position compared to other states that have legalized weed. Not only is the sale of marijuana illegal in the capital city, but it’s also banned from about one-third of the land due to federal regulations.

Further progress is stalled until the capital approves recreational sales.

Delta-8 THC: A Better and Federally Legal Alternative to Marijuana in Washington, DC?

Someone holding a marijuana leaf

Recreational users in DC are still having a hard time getting access to a variety of cannabis products.

Dispensaries are not allowed to operate, so the only option is to grow weed yourself or have it gifted from a friend who grows it.

That looks nothing like full-blown legalization — rather like decriminalization at best.

That’s why many people are looking for a legal alternative.

And here it comes, a potential solution for all the gray-area problems in Washington, DC — delta-8 THC.

Delta-8 THC vs. Delta-9 THC

Delta-8 and delta-9 THC are two popular variants of the THC molecule.

Delta-9 THC is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana, the one that gets you high.

Delta-8 THC is an isomer of delta-9, meaning it has a similar chemical formula. However, its atomic bonds are arranged in a different way.

Delta-8 THC has a double bond at the eighth carbon chain, while delta-9 has this bond at the ninth chain. That’s the reason why delta-8 is about 50% as potent as delta-9.

And why so many people are turning to it in Washington, DC, and other states.

Cons of Delta-9 THC from Marijuana

Marijuana has deeply relaxing properties. It’s also a mild psychedelic with dose-dependent effects.

In low and moderate doses, delta-9 THC reduces pain, eases stress, elevates mood, and improves cognitive functioning as part of its nootropic effects.

Larger doses get you high, changing your thinking patterns and the perception of your surroundings. They also trigger euphoria, increased appetite, and giggles. The effects may lead toward energizing or sedating, depending on the selected strain and its terpene profile.

Most people enjoy the cannabis high without any unpleasant reactions. However, some individuals are particularly sensitive to the psychedelic nature of delta-9 THC. For them, larger doses cause feelings of unease and a few physiological reactions.

The side effects of taking too much delta-9 THC include:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Feelings of discomfort
  • Cold sweats
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Increased heart rate
  • Short-term memory problems

Effects and Benefits of Delta-8 THC

Delta-8 and delta-9 THC produce similar effects, but delta-8 THC isn’t as powerful — hence the smoother buzz and lower incidence of anxiety and paranoia.

Of course, you may still get anxious and paranoid if you take more than enough, but the odds are much lower.

People usually take delta-8 THC for the same health benefits as delta-9, including:

  • Anti-nausea
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Pain relief
  • Increased appetite
  • Feelings of calmness and relaxation
  • Neuroprotection

Is Delta-8 THC Legal in Washington, DC?

Yes. Although the state of Washington bans delta-8 THC, the District of Columbia legalizes hemp-derived delta-8 products.

The cannabinoid isn’t mentioned on the list of restricted substances. Nothing seems to change in the near future, especially since the DEA made statements in 2021 saying that delta-8 THC isn’t a controlled substance.

Benefits of Buying Delta-8 THC Online

While it might be tempting to stop and buy delta-8 products at your local hemp store, you’ll be better off buying them online.

Buying from an online retailer means:

  • Lower baseline prices
  • Seasonal discounts, reward programs, subscription orders
  • Greater product selection
  • Comparing hundreds of different products in the comfort of your home
  • Better toolset for vetting your vendors (certificates of analysis, customer reviews)
  • Fresher products

Best Online Delta-8 THC Stores in Washington, DC

Though incomparably more convenient and safer than local shopping, buying delta-8 THC online still requires a decent amount of time to spend on research.

The market is largely underregulated, with no quality and purity standards in place. In other words, the responsibility for quality control is shed on the customer.

Here’s my recommendation for the two leading brands if you don’t have the time to read lab reports and user reviews. Both companies offer exceptional product quality, caring customer service, and testing integrity.

1. Area 52

image of Area 52 Delta8 Products

Get 15% off all Area 52 products. Use code “CFAH” at checkout.

Area 52 comes with a bold mission, which is to “alienize your mind.” The creed is one of the best depictions of what delta-8 THC products can do with your perception. The brand offers a broad range of delta-8 products, including tinctures, edibles, vape carts, and pre-rolls.

At 25-40 mg of delta-8 THC, they’re suitable for both beginners and seasoned users alike. On top of the decent potency, these products also contain high levels of terpenes, enhancing the cognitive buzz and health benefits of delta-8.

If you’re up for some biohacking experiments with cannabinoids, check out the brand-new line of “true full-spectrum” products from Area 52. The collection includes novel products like HHC gummies and delta-8 honey, as well as more classic formats, such as sleep gummies, energy gummies, immunity gummies, and CBD oil.

2. Finest Labs

image of Finest Labs Delta 8 THC Products

Finest Labs is my first recommendation for beginners who are looking for a simple selection of products and well-crafted formulas. The company takes a scientific, no-BS approach to delta-8 THC, blending cannabinoids with carefully selected ratios of botanical terpenes to produce whole-plant synergy.

You can choose from two product types: delta-8 THC tinctures and gummies. The tincture is better suited for beginners because it only contains 15 mg of delta-8 THC per serving. Gummies are a bit stronger, with 25 mg in each piece.

Finest Labs is also one of the most respected manufacturers of terpenes in the USA. It offers over 30 different blends that resemble the aroma and flavor profiles of various cannabis strains (indica, sativa, and hybrid).


Who can use medical marijuana in Washington, DC?

Washington, DC, doesn’t have a list of qualifying medical conditions to apply for a medical marijuana card. According to the Medical Marijuana Expansion Emergency Amendment Act of 2014, any condition a physician decides could benefit from medical marijuana is eligible.

Can you grow weed in Washington, DC?

Yes. The Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amount of Marijuana for Personal Use Initiative of 2014 allowed adults 21 and older to grow up to six plants at home. Only three plants can be in a mature (flowering) stage at a time.

Can you smoke marijuana in public?

Public consumption remains prohibited in Washington, DC. You can clearly read on the Metropolitan Police Department website that consuming marijuana in any form — or even carrying a lighted roll of paper or other equivalents of smokable marijuana — in any public place is illegal.

If you’re caught smoking marijuana in public, you may be sentenced to spend 60 days in prison and have to pay a $500 fine.

Can you travel with marijuana in Washington, DC?

Yes, traveling with marijuana is legal in Washington, DC, as long as it’s kept in a closed container and out of the driver’s reach.

However, you can’t take marijuana outside of DC to another state, even to one where marijuana is legal for recreational use. Cross-state transportation of marijuana is a federal felony (drug trafficking) punishable by up to 5 years in $250,000 in jail for less than 50 kg and fewer than 50 plants.

Is buying weed online an option in Washington, DC?

Yes. It’s legal to order weed online for delivery in Washington, DC. Though recreational sales are prohibited, you can legally gift up to an ounce of marijuana to another adult. There are plenty of online stores offering miscellaneous items for a price that’s equivalent to what you would pay for a few grams (or more, depending on the volume of your order).

Is CBD oil from hemp legal in Washington, DC?

Yes. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and its derivatives at the federal level by removing them from the list of controlled substances.

Hemp-derived products are legal as long as they contain no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC on a dry-weight basis.

You can buy hemp supplements and CBD oil in DC without a prescription. However, since the market remains unregulated, the best deals on high-quality CBD products from transparent brands are found online.

Buying Weed in Washington, DC: Bottom Line

If you’re looking for weed in Washington, DC, I have both good and bad news for you.

The good news is that marijuana is legal in DC, meaning you won’t be prosecuted for possessing up to 2 ounces of flower or its equivalent in edibles and concentrates.

You can also grow up to 6 plants, of which 3 can be mature at a time.

The bad news is that DC doesn’t have recreational dispensaries due to its ban on marijuana sales. If you want to buy weed in Washington, DC, you must be a registered medical marijuana patient.

Fortunately, hemp-derived delta-8 THC is legal in the capital city, so you have a federally-approved alternative to marijuana. Just make sure to carefully research your options and pick a transparent vendor that provides batch-specific third-party lab reports on the purity and potency of its products.

Nina created following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.