It’s legal to use and possess cannabis in Washington, D.C., either for medicinal or adult use. However, there is one enormous caveat. There is absolutely no cannabis commerce allowed in the U.S. capital. This apparent contradiction is a function of shared jurisdiction.
Because Washington, D.C. isn’t a state, its governance is controlled by Congress. Congress has prohibited the City Council from enacting any measures to tax or regulate marijuana sales – precluding any legal cannabis commerce. Residents can cultivate small amounts of cannabis and consume cannabis, but no one is allowed to buy or sell it.
Early in May, Washington D.C.’s Mayor, Murial Bowser announced proposed legislation to legalize adult-use retail sales of cannabis. The Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2019 would authorize legalized retailing of cannabis, tax sales at a rate of 17%, and dedicate the proceeds toward housing preservation and related initiatives for low-income neighbourhoods.
Separately, a federal appeals court has ruled that a lawsuit against the U.S. federal government and the DEA that challenges federal criminalization of marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic can proceed. As Congress faces new challenges to federal cannabis Prohibition on two fronts, the federal government and the Trump administration are appearing increasingly isolated in continuing to block cannabis legalization at the national level.
According to the latest Gallup poll, a full two-thirds of Americans support marijuana legalization, with majority support across the political spectrum: Democrats (75%), Independents (71%), and Republicans (53%).