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Washington, D.C. Cannabis Laws

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Legal status

  • Fully legal

Possession limits

  • Medical patients

    4 oz

  • Recreational users

    2 oz

State taxes

  • Medical patients


  • Recreational users



  • Medical patients

    6 plantsMax 3 mature

  • Recreational users

    6 plantsMax 3 mature

  • Cultivation is legal
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Application process

To apply for a medical cannabis card in Washington DC

Once you have registered with Leafwell and been approved by one of our medical marijuana doctors online, apply to the state medical marijuana program. Receive your MMJ card and start shopping for your medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary.

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Table of contents

  1. Marijuana Laws in Washington, D.C.
  2. What to Know About Medical Cannabis in Washington, D.C.
  3. Can You Grow Cannabis In Washington, D.C.?
  4. The Bottom Line

Medical cannabis is entirely legal in Washington, D.C. The possession, use, and cultivation of recreational cannabis are also legal in the district. However, the purchase and sale of recreational cannabis is still prohibited.

Washington, D.C., is uniquely positioned since it is not technically a state but a district. Despite the challenges that come with this classification, D.C.’s medical cannabis program continues to expand access to residents and non-residents alike.

Marijuana Laws in Washington, D.C.

Cannabis laws vary in different parts of the country, so it’s always a good idea to be aware of the distinct regulations of the place you’re in. Washington, D.C.’s status as a district has created obstacles to passing cannabis legalization over the years despite overwhelming support from the voters.

Further, hemp-derived cannabinoids such as CBD, delta-8, and delta-10 THC, legal under federal law, are not regulated in Washington, D.C., making it important that consumers make sure they purchase third-party tested hemp-derived products.

Medical Cannabis Laws

In 1998, the “Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998” was overwhelmingly approved by D.C. voters. Still, due to the opposition from some senators, medical cannabis wasn’t officially legalized in Washington, D.C., until 2010 with the passage of the 2010 Appropriations Bill. One powerful opponent, Rep. Bob Barr, created the Barr amendment that prevented D.C. from using federal funds to implement the MMJ program.

The first patient didn’t patronize a medical dispensary until 2013. The Medical Cannabis Amendment Act of 2022, which officially took effect March 22, 2023, overhauled D.C.’s medical cannabis program by expanding facilities offering services and allowing patients to self-certify.

This new legislation also added an annual sales tax holiday to the calendar between April 15-24 — in celebration of the 420 holiday — where the district’s 6% sales tax on medical cannabis is waived.

This expansion of the medical cannabis program increases accessibility for many people who may benefit from medical marijuana. Medical cannabis patients can possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana with no prescription required. Obtaining a medical card can be helpful in D.C. since it allows an individual access to state-licensed dispensaries.

According to a 2018 report, D.C.’s medical cannabis program was highly rated in several areas, including “ease of navigation,” “functionality,” “access to medicine,” and “patient rights and protections,” compared with other states and territories. Expanding the medical program in 2023 undoubtedly strengthened D.C.’s rating in some of these categories.

Recreational Marijuana Laws

In 2014, voters approved the legalization of recreational cannabis for possession, consumption, and cultivation for those 21 years or over in a private residence. Adults can possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants in their home, with no more than three mature plants at a time. However, selling and purchasing cannabis for recreational purposes is still illegal in the District of Columbia.

This has created a “gifting” industry where adults will go to recognized establishments and purchase a consumer good such as art and then receive a bag of cannabis for free. Though these practices are illegal and would not hold up in a court of law, they have largely gone unchallenged.

The expansion of the medical cannabis program in 2023 allowed patients to self-certify for medical cannabis without a doctor’s recommendation. Lawmakers may be expanding the medical program for the benefit of patients but also to drive recreational consumers away from these largely unregulated establishments into more trustworthy, state-licensed medical dispensaries to purchase cannabis products.

Finally, while it is legal in D.C. to possess recreational marijuana, there are still penalties for underage use, intoxicated driving, public consumption, possessing more than the allowed 2 ounces, growing more than the allowed number of plants, and more. For example, possessing more than 2 ounces of cannabis is considered a misdemeanor and may result in up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

What to Know About Medical Cannabis in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.’s medical program is somewhat unique to other programs nationwide. It’s helpful to know some of the essential components of the medical program if you plan on visiting the district or plan on registering and getting your medical card.

There Is Not a Set List of Qualifying Conditions

D.C. residents at least 21 may self-certify on their state application. Therefore, almost any medical condition could hypothetically qualify one to purchase medical cannabis from a licensed D.C. dispensary.

Telemedicine Is Allowed for MMJ Certification

Telemedicine is allowed for MMJ certification. Under the latest expansion of the medical cannabis laws in Washington, D.C., it is no longer necessary to acquire a doctor’s recommendation for cannabis if the individual is over 21. Adults participating in D.C.’s medical cannabis program must still submit an Adult Medical Cannabis Patient Application to register with the district.

Medical cannabis patients who are under the age of 18 must still have a designated provider to access medical marijuana. They must also submit a registration application with the district to access services. You can contact Leafwell to start the process of your certification today.

Washington, D.C., Has Reciprocity Laws

According to the state website, non-D.C. residents can purchase medical cannabis from a licensed retailer in the district. Visitors or non-residents must apply for a 30-day temporary registration or by presenting their patient registration from a U.S. state or territory that extends reciprocity.

These states and territories also have medical cannabis reciprocity laws on the books:

*Visitors must complete a visiting patient application with the state program.

States that have recreational cannabis for adults 21 and older but do not accept out-of-state cards include:

Can You Grow Cannabis In Washington, D.C.?

Cultivation is legal for adults over 21 in Washington, D.C. Residents can grow up to six plants with no more than three mature plants at any time. If multiple adults live in one residence, the maximum number of plants allowed is 12.

The Bottom Line

Cannabis is legal for recreational and medical use in Washington, D.C., though some restrictions exist on sale and purchase in the adult-use market. Due to the district’s unique existence as neither a state nor territory, it has been a rocky road for cannabis to reach the legal status it has achieved thus far.