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DC Clarifies Marijuana Policy


 Partake at home, not in public.

The Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Act of 2014 decriminalizes the possession or transfer of one or fewer ounces of marijuana in Washington D.C. and makes clear that the consumption of marijuana in a public space remains subject to criminal penalties. It took effect July 17, 2014.

The Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Initiative of 2014 (Initiative 71) was approved by voters and took effect on February 26, 2015. It legalizes the possession and use of 2 or fewer ounces of marijuana under certain circumstances.

Now Resolution 21-365 (Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Clarification Emergency Declaration Resolution of 2016), effective January 5, 2016, clarifies that a private club is a place to which the public is invited and is therefore a public space where possession and use of marijuana is prohibited. It also clarifies that a private residence is not a public space.

The Mayor of the District of Columbia is authorized under the new resolution to revoke any license, certificate of occupancy or permit held by an entity that knowingly permits an on-site violation of section 301 (a) of the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014. In other words, clubs that permit the use of marijuana risk closure.

While this clarifies where small amounts of marijuana may be legally possessed and used, it does nothing to clarify where or how it may be sold. Existing law makes no provisions for the sale (or taxation) of recreational marijuana in the District or on federal land, which comprises a large portion of the nation’s capital. Medical marijuana dispensaries are permitted under certain situations.

Learn about the taxation of marijuana.


Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.