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Bowser Administration Outlines Changes in District Marijuana Laws

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Police Chief Cathy Lanier and other Administration officials outlined the District’s plan to ensure the safe, responsible implementation of Initiative 71. 

“In November, residents of the District of Columbia voted to legalize small amounts of marijuana by adults for personal, in-home use in the District,” said Mayor Bowser. “We will uphold the letter and the spirit of the initiative that was passed last year, and we will establish the Initiative 71 Task Force to coordinate our enforcement, awareness and engagement efforts and address policy questions as they arise.” 

Implementation of Initiative 71 represents an incremental change from the District’s law which decriminalized marijuana. The Bowser Administration has laid out clear expectations for what is lawful and what remains illegal.  

Under Initiative 71, individuals 21 years of age or older will be able to lawfully:

  • Possess two ounces or less of marijuana;
  • Use marijuana on private property;
  • Transfer one ounce or less of marijuana to another person, as long as:
  1. no money, goods or services are exchanged; and
  2. the recipient is 21years of age or older; and
  • Cultivate within his or her primary residence up to six marijuana plants, no more than three of which are mature.

Under Initiative 71, it will remain a crime for anyone to:

  • Possess more than two ounces of marijuana;
  • Smoke or otherwise consume marijuana on public space or anywhere to which the public is invited; including restaurants, bars, and coffee shops;
  • Sell any amount of marijuana to another person; or
  • Operate a vehicle or boat under the influence of marijuana.

The Bowser Administration will administer the will of the people by implementing the law in a safe, fair and transparent manner. Sale of marijuana, use in public space, impaired driving, and possession by anyone under the age of 21 will remain illegal. While use by adults will be legal in these limited circumstances, marijuana is a controlled substance that should be used safely and responsibly to protect the public health.

The Administration has created the Initiative 71 Task Force led by Police Chief Cathy Lanier (MPD) and Director LaQuandra Nesbitt of the Department of Health (DOH) to lead implementation and public information efforts. 

In the coming days, Mayor Bowser will put forward emergency legislation to clarify that the law does not allow private clubs to provide marijuana to their patrons.

View a Fact Sheet on Marijuana in DC[PDF]
View a Frequently Asked Questions Document on Marijuana in DC[PDF]
View an Infographic on Marijuana in DC[PDF]
View a Factsheet on Marijuana in DC in Spanish[PDF]
View an Infographic on Marijuana in DC in Spanish[PDF]