WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MARIJUANA IN WASHINGTON, DC

Now that we enacted Ballot Initiative 71 on November 4, 2014, many people still have questions about the status of marijuana in Washington, DC. Here’s the latest:

Ballot Initiative 71

  • Ballot Initiative 71 was certified on December 3, 2014 and transferred to Congress on Tuesday, January 13, 2015
  • Ballot Initiative 71 became law at 12:01am, Thursday, February 26, 2015
  • Ballot Initiative 71 allows DC residents 21 and older the right to:
    • Possess up to two ounces of marijuana outside one’s home
    • Grow up to 3 mature marijuana plants inside one’s home
    • Allows growers to keep all the marijuana grown at home
    • Give, but not sell, up to one ounce of marijuana to another adult
  • DOES NOT allow anyone to sell marijuana because the Home Rule Act prevented us from putting a “tax & regulate” question in the ballot
  • DOES NOT allow public consumption of marijuana. You can still get arrested for smoking a joint on the sidewalk!

Decriminalization of Marijuana

  • The decriminalization of marijuana possession legislation passed out of the District Council on March 4, 2014 and after Congressional review became DC law on July 17, 2014
  • The decriminalization of marijuana possession DOES NOT allow public consumption of marijuana. Public use can result in an arrest and confiscation of your marijuana
  • Under the decriminalization of marijuana possession law, the smell of marijuana DOES NOT give police officers probable cause for search & seizure of your marijuana
  • If caught with up to an ounce of marijuana, the police will take your marijuana and paraphernalia, and write you a $25 ticket
  • Decriminalization IS NOT Legalization!

Medical Marijuana

  • Medical marijuana IS LEGAL in Washington, DC but only for patients that have registered with the DC Department of Health
  • There are currently over 4,000 medical cannabis patients in DC who purchase their taxed & regulated cannabis from 3 dispensaries in Washington, DC

What about Federal Land in Washington, DC?

Approximately 21% of the land in Washington, DC is managed by the federal government, which is governed by federal laws, not local DC laws. This means Ballot Initiative 71, the decriminalization of marijuana law, and the medical marijuana law are not in effect on federal lands in Washington, DC. Therefore, possession of marijuana on federal lands such as Rock Creek Park, the National Mall, around the Dupont Circle fountain, and Malcolm X Park is still an arrestable offense.


Please join us as we work toward implementing Ballot Initiative 71:

Poll Shows 65% Support Ballot Initiative 71


Source: Washington Post

On Thursday, September 18, 2014, the NBC4 / Washington Post / Marist Poll, which asked over 1200 voters their opinion on Ballot Initiative 71, was released to the public. As you can see above, the poll shows that 65% of respondents support Ballot Initiative 71. This is the highest support ever polled for marijuana legalization ballot initiative! Click here to read the poll.


Watch the NBC Washington news segment on the new poll:

Source: NBC Washington


Also Read:

Don’t forget to vote YES on Initiative 71 this November 4!

Draft Ballot Initiative – Please Leave Feedback!

DC Cannabis Campaign Draft Ballot Initiative Language

What do you think?


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Thank you for your comments! We closed the public comment period on January 9, 2014. Below are the anonymous comments submitted by the public:

10/18/13 11:38 “6 plants is too many and would produce much more than 2 oz. of MJ. each plant would weigh more than 2 oz. You should make clear that MJ is in usable form and not to be considered if still on the leaf. plants should be limited to residence rather than the person. If 5 people live in a group home, if they all get to grow 6 plants, you got 18 plants.”
10/18/13 13:51 “The “”with 3 or fewer being mature plants”” language is very strange and makes little sense. In fact the smallest hydro units hold at least 6 small plants and I can’t imagine anyone using them for fewer. And vegetation and harvesting will all be done as a group. Also there’s much difference between the amount that can be produced by large plants and small plants. Many hydro plants are forced into bloom at 10″” high while large plants can reach 10′ even indoors. The quantity limit should be on the weight of buds combined or total height, not plant number if anything.”
10/19/13 20:28 Sounds good to me!
10/25/13 14:21 “i think this is a great cause! I think this will eliminate a few things in Dc, including less lock ups,more low income residents chances to obtain employment and other opportunites. After 1998, what was the real holdup? Isnt this just as important and fair as same sex marriage? i think so, so if i can help contact me!
10/25/13 14:47 I think this is great. We finally have a voice for the people. This type of movement will enhance a lot of things. These fines for posession of marijuana are really outrageous, and it’s time we take a stand. What time is better than now, especillay when you have a whole city behind you.
11/20/13 16:21 Why not age 18 or 19?
12/10/13 14:18 It might make more sense to change the age limit to 18. It’s where I, and many folks think it should be. Right now the precedent is 21, but if we change to 18 it might influence other municipalities and change the precedent.
12/10/13 14:22 So happy to be getting this email and hear of the progress!! Shouldn’t the bill clarify procedures for smoking and operating a vehicle? Washington Initiative 502 makes it clear that it’s illegal, and I’ve had friends arrested for simply sitting in their car smoking a joint.”
12/16/13 17:42 Looks quite good. As many protective measures as possible so no unlawful circumventing of your vision/purpose/proposal.
1/6/14 13:49 Marijuana is used as a means of calming and pain relief. I personally feel that marijuana has helped me with my manic symptoms in my bi-polar disorder. It also helps my anxiety disorder. Taking several anti-depressants and anti-psychotic have only helped to zombify and mummified me. They don’t allow me to engage in a normal life with daily activities. Marijuana has helped me to engage in society without feeling anxious and paranoid.
1/6/14 14:15 I think is great and reads well.
1/6/14 14:47 make sure it includes home cultivation explicitly so they can not deny what the people want! make sure it does not restrict people with prior criminal records for drugs from participating and make sure there is very little or no regulation other than marijuana possession, use, sale, cultivation and creation of food and concentrates will be legal for all adults over 21.
1/6/14 15:10 Para 6: property owners, ie, landlords, could restrict a tenant’s right to grow. DELETE!!!!!
1/6/14 15:55 Looks like we can kiss the days of going to jail for a gram goodbye with this legislation! The first step towards a more logical culture.
1/7/14 1:03 Great
1/7/14 10:13 DC residents should be free to grow their own marijuana!
1/8/14 10:17 Canabis should be legal. It is much less less harmful than alcohol and many prescription drugs
1/8/14 16:59 I read the ballot initiative and found it well written and composed . I support the ballot initiative in its entire form and agree that it should be ratified and immediately implemented.
1/8/14 20:51 It’s about time, please legalize marijuana. No more war on drugs, no more people having their records ruined for a lifetime for smoking a plant. Sick people needs it, mental patients need it and I include myself in this category, marijuana safe my life, it calms me down and stops my repetitive bad thoughts in its tracks. I have Maniac depression and I need Marijuana to snap out of hell or depression and mania. I’m a professional, I have a career, a house, I pay taxes and I love and trust this country. Do the right thing and legalize recreational use of Marijuana. Thank You.

Legislative Summary: Simple Possession of Small Quantities Act (B20-409)

This legislative summary was written by Grant Smith, Policy Manager, Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance:


On July 10, 2013, Councilmember Tommy Wells (D- Ward 6) introduced the “Simple Possession of Small Quantities of Marijuana Decriminalization Act of 2013” (Bill Number 20-409). This bill was co- introduced or co-sponsored by nine out of thirteen Councilmembers. The legislation would reform D.C. law to eliminate criminal penalties for possession of marijuana weighing one ounce or less or paraphernalia intended to use or possess marijuana weighing one ounce or less. This legislative summary outlines how the legislation as it was introduced would reform D.C.’s marijuana law.

Overview

This legislation was co-introduced by Councilmembers Barry (D-Ward 8); McDuffie (D-Ward 5); Evans (D- Ward 2); Bonds (D-At Large); Grosso (I-At Large); Graham (D-Ward 1); and Cheh (D-Ward 3).

This legislation is co-sponsored by Councilmembers Mendelson (D-Chairman) and Catania (I-At Large).

This legislation has not received support from Councilmembers Alexander (D-Ward 7); Orange (D- At Large); or Bowser (D-Ward 4).

This legislation was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, which is chaired by Councilmember Tommy Wells.

Timeline

After holding public hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety scheduled for October 23, 2013 and October 24, 2013, the Committee would next conduct a markup of the legislation and vote on whether to send the bill to the Committee of the Whole comprised of all thirteen Councilmembers for further consideration.

Summary

This legislation consists of eight sections that make a number of revisions to D.C. laws. The first section contains the title of the bill.

Section 2

  • Under this legislation, any person in the District of Columbia found in possession of marijuana weighing one ounce or less would no longer be subjected to arrest or charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense under D.C. law and would no longer be subject to up to 180 days in prison or up to a $1,000 fine.
  • Possession of marijuana weighing one ounce or less would become a civil offense punishable by a $100 civil fine and forfeiture of the marijuana that triggered the fine. The fine would likely be issued in a manner similar to how a traffic citation for a civil infraction is issued by the Metropolitan Police Department. A police officer would seize any marijuana and issue the citation.
  • A person under the age of 18 in possession of marijuana weighing one ounce or less would be subject to a $100 civil fine and forfeiture of the marijuana that triggered the fine but would also be required to attend a drug awareness program within one year of notice to the person under 18 and their parent or legal guardian of its availability.
  • The parents or legal guardian of the person under the age of 18 would be notified of the issuance of the marijuana citation and the availability of a drug awareness program.
  • A qualified drug awareness program would be made available to a person under the age of 18 without cost and a qualified program would be required to provide at least four hours of group discussion or instruction based on science and evidence-based principles and practices specific to the use and misuse of marijuana, alcohol and other drugs.
  • A person under the age of 18 who fails to complete the four hours of a drug awareness program within one year of its availability would be subject to eight hours of court-ordered community service and an additional $200 fine.
  • Any person in the District of Columbia found in possession of marijuana weighing one ounce or less would not be subject to any additional penalty, sanction or disqualification for engaging in such conduct other than the penalties described above.
  • Under this legislation, the possession of marijuana weighing one ounce or less would not warrant or authorize the seizure of a person’s property under D.C. civil asset forfeiture laws. A person whose only conduct was possession of marijuana weighing one ounce or less would not face civil asset forfeiture of property such as vehicles, real estate or other property for that conduct but would still face seizure of any marijuana.
  • D.C. laws are revised to specify that transfering (or “sharing”) marijuana weighing one ounce or less without renumeration (expectation or receipt of money, services, favors or other forms of tangible or intangible compensation) would no longer be treated as marijuana distribution or manufacturing. Presently, the act of sharing marijuana under D.C. law is treated the same as distributing or selling marijuana.

Section 3

  • Under this legislation, any person found in the District of Columbia possessing paraphernalia for the purpose of consuming or storing marijuana weighing one ounce or less would no longer be subjected to arrest or charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense under D.C. law punishable by up to 30 days in prison and a fine.
  • Possession of paraphernalia for the purpose of consuming, carrying or storing marijuana weighing one ounce or less would no longer be a criminal or civil offense and would become lawful conduct under D.C. law.
  • Transferring (or “sharing”) paraphernalia intended to be used to consume, carry or store marijuana weighing less than one ounce without renumeration (expectation or receipt of money, services, favors or other forms of tangible or intangible compensation) would no longer be a criminal or civil offense and would become lawful conduct under D.C. law.

Section 4

  • Under this legislation, a person whose only unlawful conduct was possession of marijuana weighing one ounce or less would not furnish cause or authorize a judge to issue a search warrant and subsequent seizure of any property other than seizure of any amount of marijuana.

Section 5

  • This legislation amends D.C. Code pertaining to public assistance to clarify that a person who commits the civil violation of possession of marijuana weighing one ounce or less would generally not be rendered ineligible for public assistance.

Section 6

  • This legislation amends D.C. Code to clarify that a person who commits the civil violation of possession of marijuana weighing one ounce or less would not have their D.C. issued drivers’ license suspended or revoked.

Section 7

  • This section pertains to the projected cost of implementing this legislation.

Section 8

  • This legislation would take effect following approval by the Mayor (or in the event of a veto by the Mayor, action by the Council to override the veto) and a 60 day period of review by the United States Congress.

For additional information, please contact Grant Smith, Policy Manager, Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance gsmith@drugpolicy.org or 202-683-2984