As of midnight on 12:01 a.m. Thursday, marijuana became legal in Washington, D.C. But those looking to smoke a joint on the National Mall or have a puff while strolling past the White House are in for a disappointment.
The District of Columbia is the first jurisdiction on the East Coast to legalize recreational use of pot after the city’s voters approved the measure in a November vote, joining Washington state, Alaska and Colorado in making marijuana lawful for recreational use.
Recreational marijuana use is still illegal under federal laws, limiting the reach of the new law.
But what does this actually mean for those looking to smoke some weed in the capital of this great nation?
— Ben Droz (@bendroz) February 26, 2015
Possession of up to 2 ounces of pot for use at home is now legal, and people are also permitted to grow up to three mature plants of the green stuff. So smokers are allowed to grow small supplies of marijuana, and can cultivate up to six marijuana plants at home at a time. Like alcohol laws, those lighting up have to be over 21.
However, taking a puff in public is still a no no. Alongside buying or selling the drug, public use remains illegal under the new law.
7 people. 15 joints at pot celebration party. pic.twitter.com/Fc4VXTy849
— Perry Stein (@PerryStein) February 26, 2015
Since the initiative, which passed with a 65 percent majority, only addressed personal possession, not taxation or regulation, buying and selling is a no go. Congress effectively blocked any effort to implement a legal marijuana market. Pot smoker can transfer up to 1 ounce of the green stuff legally.
But marijuana is banned altogether in parts of the city that are federal land, which makes up about 20 percent of the city, so in those locations both possession and smoking weed are illegal.
Some DC residents took to the streets on Thursday freely flaunting their marijuana in public under the new found law.
— Mike Conneen (@MikeConneen) February 26, 2015
Others were enjoying lighting up at home, without fear of arrest. Said one resident, “Feels like freedom.”
— suraechinn (@suraechinn) February 26, 2015
Despite last-minute maneuvers by Republican leaders in Congress and threats that city leaders could face prison time, Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser, who took office in January, said it was her duty to implement the initiative.
“This is a major milestone on the road to ending marijuana prohibition in the United States,” said Robert Capecchi of the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates for legalization. “If the president can brew and drink beer in the White House, adults should be allowed to grow and consume a less harmful substance in their houses.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.