With eighteen states and Washington, D.C. now allowing recreational cannabis to be sold, there are a number of retail options. Every state that has legalized marijuana had to determine regulations and rules for growing, possessing, and retailing it. All states that now allow weed to be purchased had to develop a system that authorized only people over 21 to buy it. States also had to determine how many retail locations they would allow in cities and how they would license those locations. Keep reading to learn more about the legality and logistics of purchasing weed safely in Washington, D.C.
Purchasing Weed in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., has a unique way of allowing the purchase of weed. D.C. does not allow retail establishments to sell marijuana directly to consumers, yet they put a loophole in the law that allows people to “gift” cannabis. The gift can be in conjunction with the purchase of something like a t-shirt, a work of art, or any other trinket that the consumer pays an inflated price for so they can also get a bag of marijuana.
The law states that up to one ounce of marijuana can be transferred to another person at least 21 years old, so long as there is no payment or other exchange of goods or services. Since people can grow at least three plants and then gift cannabis, the marijuana market has been driven by this informal market structure of growing and then gifting.
As a result, the gifting market has become a large percentage of the marijuana trade in D.C. People tend to think every marijuana gifting transaction is informal and friendly, but the police in D.C. warn cannabis consumers that unscrupulous fake vendors will use the gifting transaction as an excuse to rob or harm people. The best way to avoid problems is to go to trusted gift suppliers that operate under the Initiative 17 guidelines.
The Legality of Growing Marijuana
Technically, the only truly legal marijuana in D.C. is homegrown weed that you smoke in your home. It has taken D.C. growers a while to learn how to grow quality cannabis that they can gift to users. It takes several crops to grow potent cannabis, but entrepreneurial growers are making a modest business of it.
You can grow up to six plants, three of them flowering, in Washington, D.C. If more adults live in the house, you may grow up to 12 plants. The plants must be grown in a non-public room that is not accessible to minors, and no more than half the plants may be flowering. The vegetative state is when the plant has nothing but leaves, and the flowering stage is when they have buds or fruits.
Growing your own will take a significant investment in your water bill, electrical bill, time, patience, and equipment. It is not easy to raise quality, potent marijuana – the only kind people want to purchase – but it is possible with time and diligence.
The process of gifting is something that takes a bit of practice. Here is how gifting works:
Place an order online or go to the store to select a gift.
Visit the store with cash and an ID.
Pay for the gift and receive marijuana as a 171 gift.
The proper vocabulary is essential to avoid getting in legal trouble. It is important to follow the store personnel’s lead when “negotiating” the 171 gift – the cannabis – without mentioning marijuana, cannabis, weed, ganja, or any other direct reference. Here are some tips:
It is best to ask for the 171 gift menu first.
Never directly ask for marijuana.
Choose an item from the gift menu and purchase it.
The cost of the cannabis will be the cost of the gift. The clerk may indicate just how much cannabis you are purchasing. For example, the clerk may say, “this t-shirt costs $70 for a gift of an eighth.”
Only refer to cannabis as “the gift” or the “171 gift.”
It may seem awkward to go through this just to get a little weed, but it becomes comfortable with time. Always defer to the store personnel in your conversations because they know all the proper jargon and negotiating methods.
Another way to buy marijuana in Washington, D.C., is to order a delivery and add on the 171 gift. Many pizza places now double as cannabis delivery services. Ordering delivery helps you avoid any verbal mistakes that an undercover cop may overhear.
Smoking in Public
One of the most critical aspects of the recreational marijuana law in D.C. is that you are technically not allowed to smoke in public. You must find private property where you can indulge and avoid places like parks when you want to smoke cannabis. You cannot even smoke in a car that is parked. You can face up to six days in jail and a $500 fine for a first offense.
However, it is possible to smoke in public if you are willing to be discreet and curious. Many clubs with rooftop bars will allow smokers on the roof in the later hours. Be careful, ask a few questions, and see what kind of reception you get. Georgetown is a popular place to roll up some joints and indulge, but it is wise to get a sense of the crowd before pulling out your lighter. But be careful – even if you eat an edible in front of a witness, you can get a ticket.
Another alternative to smoking is to get a THC vape pen. A pen is discreet, and it is difficult to determine what’s inside.
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