Is Cannabis Legal in Washington D.C?

Following the lead of several other states, Washington D.C. legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2014. However, the district also passed some of the strictest limits regarding when and where the recreational use can occur.

Only five days after the state passed the bill to make cannabis legal, a new law was passed making it illegal to smoke in night clubs, hotels, bars, restaurants and any other private location. The law came as quite the disappointment to cannabis advocates that were hoping the legalization of recreational use would result in European-style smoke lounge and cafes. Unfortunately, D.C. viewed the law much differently. Similar to the public consumption of alcohol, being caught smoking cannabis in public could result in a fine of up to $500.

The restrictions also put a damper on the plans of potential business owners, hoping the new law would bring in ample opportunities within the cannabis market. Worse yet, Congress has used its unparalleled control over the district to obstruct efforts to fully implement the regulatory regime. That means D.C. hasn't been able to open pot shops yet, so you can't legally buy recreational marijuana there.

It's also important to keep in mind that even though marijuana is now legal in Washington, D.C., employers still reserve the right to require drug screenings of employees and can terminate those who do not pass the test.

The district's cannabis laws are relatively young, and thanks to a strong activist movement will likely evolve over time. It's important to regularly look into the current state laws prior to purchasing or using cannabis in Washington, D.C.


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