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At 12:01 a.m 2/26/2015, the District of Columbia will join a small but growing number of states to legalize the possession, growth and usage of marijuana in private for anyone over the age of 21. Selling the drug is still illegal. DC mayor Muriel Bowser’s office has laid out what is now lawful and remains illegal regarding marijuana under Initiative 71, which is still illegal under federal law and across state lines in Virginia and Maryland:

Under Initiative 71, individuals 21 years of age or older will be able to lawfully:

  • Possess two ounces or less of marijuana;
  • Use marijuana on private property;
  • Transfer one ounce or less of marijuana to another person, as long as:
  1. no money, goods or services are exchanged; and
  2. the recipient is 21years of age or older; and
  • Cultivate within his or her primary residence up to six marijuana plants, no more than three of which are mature.

Under Initiative 71, it will remain a crime for anyone to:

  • Possess more than two ounces of marijuana;
  • Smoke or otherwise consume marijuana on public space or anywhere to which the public is invited; including restaurants, bars, and coffee shops;
  • Sell any amount of marijuana to another person; or
  • Operate a vehicle or boat under the influence of marijuana.

The Bowser Administration will administer the will of the people by implementing the law in a safe, fair and transparent manner. Sale of marijuana, use in public space, impaired driving, and possession by anyone under the age of 21 will remain illegal. While use by adults will be legal in these limited circumstances, marijuana is a controlled substance that should be used safely and responsibly to protect the public health.

DC also made it illegal for employers to test job applicants for marijuana. It should be noted that using marijuana on federal property in DC is still considered illegal and is classified as a misdemeanor with penalties ranging from one year in prison and a maximum fine of $1000 dollars for the initial offense to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $5000 dollars for repeat offenses.

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