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Legalization Status

Marijuana (2)

Decriminalized since 2015

Medical Marijuana (1)

Medical since 2011

Coffee Shop (1)

Recreational since 2015

District of Columbia Governing Body Information


2019 Marijuana Packaging Laws Update

The capital of the country has somewhat light laws when it comes to the use of marijuana for recreational and medical use. And while the use of marijuana is legal for medical and recreational purposes, it is not available for retail or commercial purposes.

What makes Washington, D.C. unique from other places where marijuana is legal is that marijuana is illegal on federal land, national parks, and military property. As there are zones in Washington, D.C. that fall under these prohibited areas, possession of marijuana could land you in hot water if you are found with marijuana in any of these prohibited zones.

The only thing that appears to keep Washington, D.C. back from fully legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana appears to be tax regulations. For instance, the state’s efforts to fully tax the sale of marijuana have been blocked by Congress on a numerous attempts.

Under current laws on cannabis in Washington, individuals over the age of 21 are able to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana without sanction or penalty. In addition, residents who live in Washington, D.C. are able to grow marijuana within their private property or properties with certain restrictions. Additionally, residents of Washington, D.C. are able to give and receive marijuana without the exchange of money, goods, or services.

Since the sale of marijuana is not yet legal in Washington, D.C., there are currently no marijuana labeling or packaging laws to report on.

2018 Marijuana Packaging Laws Update

The first step in the District of Columbia’s fight to legalize cannabis started with medical cannabis in 1998. Initiative 59, also called “Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative” passed in November 1998, but the implementation was delayed for years when Congress passed the Barr Amendment. This Amendment delayed the start of DC’s medical marijuana program by prohibiting D.C. to use District funds to implement their medical cannabis program.

The Barr Amendment was finally overturned in 2009, and the first customer legally purchased medicinal cannabis in 2013. It’s been a rocky road for decriminalization of marijuana in the District of Columbia, finally ending with a new law that went into effect in July 2014. Soon after, Initiative 71 legalized the use of cannabis recreationally, which means that consumers can purchase medical cannabis without a prescription. Initiative 71 was approved by over 60% of the voters and went into full effect in 2015.

In the District of Columbia, the possession of small amounts of marijuana is legal for adults over 21 years old. It’s no longer illegal to possess two ounces or less of marijuana or to transfer one ounce or less to another person who is of legal age as long as it doesn’t fall under the guise of selling. It’s still a criminal violation to sell to another person, possess more than two ounces, operating a vehicle under the influence, or using marijuana in a public space. People who have a Medical Marijuana Card can possess up to two ounces per month, but the use of medical marijuana in public is still a criminal offense.

2017 Marijuana Packaging Laws Update

Washington D.C. was a somewhat latecomer to the medical cannabis industry in February of 2015, but their Medical Marijuana Program is well organized and provides lots of guidelines for producers, product manufacturers, and dispensaries. Like many other states, D.C. is very concerned with making sure the labeling of cannabis products doesn’t contain anything that might appeal to children and that the packaging of cannabis is in child-resistant containers.

The rules state: “A cultivation center that produces edible marijuana products or marijuana-infused products shall ensure that all edible marijuana products or marijuana-infused products offered for sale:

(a)  Are labeled clearly and unambiguously as medical marijuana;

(b) Are not presented in packaging or with labeling that is appealing to children; and

(c) Have packaging designed or constructed to be significantly difficult for children under five (5) years of age to open, but not normally difficult for adults to use properly.”

D.C. also has very strict labeling requirements, including stating clearly that there is medical marijuana in the container, as well as listing all the other ingredients in the product. Labels must also include specific text, which is outlined below.

“No medical marijuana shall be dispensed or distributed to a qualifying patient or caregiver unless the container in which it is distributed bears a legible label, firmly affixed, stating the following information:

(a) The name of the cultivation center where the medical marijuana was produced;

(b) The name of the dispensary where the medical marijuana was dispensed;

(c) The quantity of medical marijuana contained within;

(d) The cannabinoid profile of the medical marijuana contained within, including the THC level;

(e) Any other ingredient or ingredients besides medical marijuana contained within;

(f) The name of the recommending physician;

(g) The dispensing date that the medical marijuana was transferred to the qualified patient or caregiver;

(h) The qualifying patient’s name and registration card number; and

(i) A statement that the product is for medical use and not for resale or transfer to another person, containing the following language: ‘Contains Marijuana. Keep out of the reach of children.’”

Please refer to the Washington D.C. Medical Marijuana Program website for more specific information. All text is taken from the D.C. Municipal Regulations and D.C. Register’s rules on medical marijuana.

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