At 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, marijuana will be legal in the District, and, for better or worse, city leaders want you to know that the nation’s capital will not turn into Amsterdam. Mayor Muriel Bowser released some guidance Tuesday on what will happen when Initiative 71 — the measure that voters overwhelmingly approved in November — goes into effect Thursday. Possession will be legal, but selling the plant, for instance, could land you in jail.
Thursday marks the end of Congress’ 3o-day allotted time to potentially kill the law, which it has the power to do under the Home Rule Charter. Some Republican officials contend that the law was already quashed during December’s federal appropriations process, though D.C. officials counter that Congress only blocked the city’s ability to pass laws regulating the sale of marijuana, not the possession of it. This all could eventually be settled in court.
So, for now, here’s a list of what we presume are frequently asked questions about pot legalization in the District.
I’ve always dreamed of smoking on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. I can do that, right?
Double no. You cannot smoke in public, anywhere. On federal land, even possession is illegal.
Oh, what about in front of the Anacostia Big Chair? That seems nice, as well.
Seriously, you cannot smoke in public. Not on District land, not on federal land.
Can I at least bring my weed to the Mall? Not to smoke or anything, just to show my friends.
More than 20 percent of land in the District is federal land, which makes things a littler trickier here than in states where pot is legal. Initiative 71 does not change federal laws, which means possessing pot on federal land like the Mall is still illegal. That means no smoking or possession in front of the Jefferson Memorial.
Can I turn my row house into an expansive marijuana grow house? Don’t worry, it’s not a group house, and no one will be bothered.
No, the law limits the number of marijuana plants you can grow. Your home will not legally be allowed to look like an episode of “Weeds.”
How many plants can I grow then?
You can cultivate up to six marijuana plants at your house, with no more than three mature at a single time.
Just kidding, I do live in a group house with six other people. We all have green thumbs. Can we all grow six plants?
In a household with multiple adults, you can grow a total of up to 12 plants, with no more than six being mature at once.
I’m in need of some extra cash. Can I sell some of my homegrown weed?
No, selling weed is illegal. Initiative 71 only legalizes the possession of marijuana, not the sale.
Can I give my cousin some weed for his birthday next month?
Yes, so long as it’s not more than 1 ounce and your cousin is 21 or older. That could be a lovely gift. Just make sure your cousin doesn’t give you any money in exchange. That would be illegal and make for a suspicious and terrible gift.
How much weed am I allowed to possess?
You may only possess up to 2 ounces of pot. Anything more than that is illegal.
I’m so excited to go to my favorite neighborhood, drink my favorite beer, and smoke a joint. Anyone want to join?
No, no one should join. Smoking is illegal in public spaces, which includes bars, restaurants, movie theaters, even Amsterdam Falafelshop.
I’m a very mature 18-year-old. Can I smoke with my parents in our home?
No, you may not. Just like drinking, possessing marijuana is illegal for anyone under the age of 21.
Hey, I’m a senior — 22 years old — at American University and ready for the real world. Can I grow some pot plants in my dorm to share with my friends?
This change to city law does not automatically alter your institution’s policies. D.C. cops may not arrest you if you smoke some weed in your college residence, but your university is certainly within its right to discipline you as it sees fit.
I’m one of those people who’s actually a better driver when I’m stoned. Driving high won’t get me in trouble with the cops, will it?
You are not a better driver when you are high. And it is very much illegal to operate a vehicle or boat while high.
So, I can smoke a joint in the comfort of my private residency?
Yes, relax, you won’t get arrested for that.
(Note: Bowser said today that smoking in public housing units would remain illegal, though D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said her officers would not be arresting people in public housing for smoking.)