Everything You Need to Know About Using Medical Marijuana in Washington, DC

Legislation for medical marijuana began in the Nation’s Capitol. Now, each state has its own framework on cannabis, including Washington, DC.

The District’s residents and businesses have to balance legal weed use and federal restrictions. It can get confusing for people who think that because they have a medical marijuana card, they can carry their stash with them anywhere they go.

The reality is a little more ambiguous than that. If you plan to use your MMJ card in DC, you should know these facts first.

1. Recreational Weed is Prohibited—For Now

Dozens of states have approved medical marijuana use to varying degrees. Recreational weed hasn’t had as much acceptance yet, and it’s still prohibited in DC.

However, in February, mayor Muriel Bowser introduced the Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2021. If the act passes, it will make it legal for adults to use and possess cannabis within the stated limits.

As an important second step, the act also includes the required expunging of any cannabis-related convictions on a person’s record. If that happens, you won’t need an MMJ card to buy weed from recreational dispensaries.  But with the hefty excise tax that would come with those purchases, that MMJ card would save you a lot of money.

2. The Details Behind Legal Marijuana in DC

DC’s legal weed status has some ambiguity in it. The laws seem confusing, mostly because they aren’t clear-cut.

You can have weed in your possession if you’re over 21, but you can’t buy it, and you certainly can’t sell it. So how do you get it?

With Initiative 71, anyone over 21 can have up to two ounces of marijuana and give away up to one ounce. It’s still illegal to use weed in public places, but if you’re not on federal property or lighting up a joint, most businesses don’t pay attention.

You can grow six plants but not have an active bud over two ounces. Accessories are legal to buy and sell anywhere. Only a licensed dispensary can sell cannabis.

Some dispensaries get around the MMJ requirement by selling other products to customers and “gifting” them up to one ounce of cannabis.

3. Beware of Federal Property

How confident are you about the federal lands in the District? If you’re walking around with weed in your possession, you better be 100% certain you’re not on federal land.

Washington, DC isn’t a state, and it’s almost one-quarter federal property. Remember, cannabis is still not legal at the federal level. You might have less than two ounces on you and be a proud, card-carrying member of the medical marijuana club, but you can still get arrested if you’re on federal ground.

4. In-Between MMJ Cards? Try Gifting

We touched on “gifting” earlier. You’re either thinking it sounds sketchy, or you’re excited to learn more about this legal loophole.

Getting an MMJ card is the best way to legally enjoy weed. It opens you up to lots of options from the various dispensaries in the District. Edibles, tinctures, flower, vapes, and more are at your disposal.

If you just moved to the area and haven’t gotten your card yet, or you’re still waiting to get approved, there are other options. Your friends can always give you an ounce without getting in trouble, or you can use a DC delivery service.

With this method, all you have to do is find a shop in DC that advertises cannabis as a “free gift with purchase.” You’ll add whatever souvenirs, weed accessories, or other items you want to your cart, and then choose a marijuana strain as a thank you gift. Everything is delivered to you with no hassle and without breaking any laws.

The catch is that you probably don’t “need” those items, and you’re going to pay a lot more for them. It’s not uncommon to see a $10 t-shirt selling for $50 in these stores, but, hey, your weed will be free.


DC’s marijuana laws aren’t competely weed-friendly yet. Still, if you want to use cannabis while you’re in the District, it shouldn’t be a problem as long as you have a medical marijuana card.

Stay away from federal property, don’t use in public, never have more than two ounces on you at any time, and don’t sell your stash. Stick to those key points, and you’ll be fine.

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