Washington, D.C., residents live a tale of two cities when it comes to cannabis enforcement. Yes, marijuana is legal in the nation’s capital—but only on the 71 percent of lands subject to District Law. The remaining 29 percent of D.C. falls under federal law, and the federal government has repeatedly blocked the District from setting up a regulated retail program while consistently making efforts to decriminalize cannabis difficult. As a result, arrests for marijuana use have gone up since 2015, despite legalization. But a shift in D.C. policing policy should dramatically reduce arrests. On Friday, D.C. police announced that in most cases, they’ll issue citations for cannabis consumption rather than make an arrest.
For Most in D.C., Public Cannabis Consumption Won’t Lead to an Arrest
Voters in Washington, D.C. fully legalized cannabis for adult use in 2014. But the reality on the ground more closely resembles a decriminalized city rather than one with legal cannabis. Despite having its own municipal government, D.C. politics are shackled to the whims of the federal government. And Capitol Republicans have many times undermined, slowed, or outright blocked efforts first, to decriminalize and legalize cannabis, and having failing that, to establish a retail market.