The District of Columbia decriminalization law that replaces criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana with a $25 civil fine goes into effect today, July 17, 2014. 

Here is what you need to know about the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014:

It Is No Longer A Crime To:

  • Possess one ounce or less of marijuana;
  • Transfer one ounce or less of marijuana to another person, so long as there is no payment made or any other type of exchange of goods or services; or
  • Possess marijuana-related drug paraphernalia – such as bongs, cigarette rolling papers, and cigar wrappers – that are associated with one ounce or less of marijuana.

Penalties & Procedure For Decriminalized Possession: 

  • rolling$25 ticket issued to anyone found to be in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana; any visible marijuana or paraphernalia will be seized;
  • If the ticketed civilian fails to provide their accurate name and address, the penalty could increase to arrest, conviction, and a fine up to $100.
  • Tickets can be appealed with the Office of Administrative Hearings by following the instructions on the ticket

What Is Still Illegal?

  • Selling any amount of marijuana to another person;
  • Operating a vehicle or boat under the influence of marijuana;
  • Smoking, eating, or drinking marijuana – or holding or carrying a lighted roll of paper or other lighted smoking equipment filled with marijuana – in any public space (any place to which the public is invited).
  • Anyone arrested for using marijuana in public can, upon conviction, be sentenced up to 60 days in jail or a fine of up to $500.

Exceptions & Special Circumstances:

  • A person who has been issued a Medical Marijuana Card by the District Department of Health may continue to possess up to two ounces of medical marijuana per month. However, the use of medical marijuana in public still remains a criminal offense and can result in arrest.
  • Federal law enforcement officers may arrest anyone in the District of Columbia for possession or use of any amount of marijuana as a violation of federal law. For example, the U.S. Park Police can arrest a person for possessing or using any marijuana on the National Mall, Rock Creek Park, or any other National Park Service land.

Prosecutions for federal law violations would be done by the U.S. Office of the Attorney General.


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