As of Midnight Thursday, marijuana is now legal in Washington, D.C. However, how long weed stays decriminalized in the nation’s capital remains to be seen. After Washington D.C. residents voted in support of legal pot this past Election Day, Congress attempted to block the bill by attaching preventative measures in an unrelated $1.1 trillion spending deal. However, the definition of the word “enact” gave D.C. officials a loophole in their pursuit to decriminalize weed, and as of 12:01 a.m., pot is legal there unless Congress steps up efforts to stop it.
While other states with legalized weed only allow citizens to be in possession of an ounce of weed, Washington, D.C. doubles that amount with a two-ounce max. Anything over that quantity will result in a $1,000 fine and a potential jail sentence. D.C. residents can also own up to six marijuana plants, but to discourage selling, only three can be budding. Like Alaska, Colorado and Washington, residents can also gift an ounce of weed to a fellow resident, but selling it is still illegal. Like the other pro-pot states, driving under the influence of marijuana and smoking pot in public are against the law, ABC News reports.
As the Washington Post writes, officials in Washington, D.C. argue that Congress’ actions didn’t stop their marijuana bill from passing. Instead, because of Congress’ demand that no money be spent attempting to “enact” the pot bill, all Congress did was prevent city officials from working on a plan for the sale and taxation of the legal marijuana, a process that took over a year in dispensary-happy states like Washington and Colorado. (The Post adds that city officials could face jail time by simply discussing a pot plan during office hours.) As of now, marijuana is simply legal in Washington, D.C. without any plan to cultivate its economic stimulus.
From Congress’ point of view, the decriminalized weed in Washington, D.C. is in strict opposition to the language they tacked on to the spending bill and therefore still illegal in the District of Columbia. Unfortunately for Congress, D.C. Metro police answer only to city officials, who have said that marijuana is legal in the capital.