In 2015, DC passed the Initiative 71 law which allows residents to consume, possess, and grow marijuana for personal use.
As of 2023, if you are a DC resident above the age of 21, you can cultivate up to six marijuana plants, with no more than 3 being mature. If there are multiple adults in the household, you can cultivate no more than 12 marijuana plants total, with 6 being mature.
In this article we discuss what it means for your cannabis plants to be “mature”, the nuances of cultivating cannabis in DC, and great local growers clubs to join for additional resources for growing marijuana in DC.
Can I Sell The Weed I Grow In DC?
Unfortunately, Initiative 71 law only allows DC residents to cultivate cannabis for personal use and for gifting. Selling and buying weed in DC, comes with a ton of nuances, as DC weed laws are some of the most confusing marijuana laws in the United States. Under I71 laws, the cannabis you grow and harvest can only be gifted to other DC residents, not sold.
How Many Plants Can You Grow In DC?
DC allows anyone above the age of 21 to grow six cannabis plants. However, you can only have three plants blooming. Marijuana plants go through two stages: the vegetative and the flowering stage, and DC only allows you to have 3 plants in the mature state at any given time.
So technically you can have 6 cannabis plants, but in reality when you first start your grow you can only start with three plants. This all has to do with understanding the DC grow laws on what mature means.
Understanding What “Mature” Plants Mean in DC
You are only allowed to have up to 3 plants out of the 6 marijuana plants in a mature state. So what exactly does mature mean? Mature refers to the second cycle of the cannabis plant, so if you are new to cannabis cultivation, the marijuana plant goes through two cycles:
The Vegetative cycle includes: seedlings, cloning, and any state in which the cannabis plant only has sugar leaves with no buds blooming.
- Germination: 1–7 days
- Seedling: 2–3 weeks
- Vegetative: 2–8 weeks
The vegetative cycle of cannabis can last anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks, but the easiest tell-tale sign to know when you're in the vegetative state is your cannabis plant is made entirely of fan leaves (the green cannabis leaves) with zero blooming.
The flowering/mature cycle includes: flowering, drying, and curing. The cannabis plant will have buds blooming, and once it’s ready to harvest, you will dry and cure the buds for a set period of time before the dry herbs become combustible.
- Pre-flowering: 1–2 weeks
- Flowering: 6–8 weeks
- Harvesting/curing: 2 weeks
The mature cycle of cannabis can last anywhere from 9 to 12 weeks. The easiest way to tell you are in a mature state of the cannabis growth cycle is the buds are blooming, and the cannabis plant aromas begin to become very pungent.
How To Time Your Growing Cycles In DC
Under DC marijuana grow laws, you can only have 3 out of your 6 cannabis plants in the flowering state. This makes growing marijuana in DC a bit tricky, as you have to time when to begin each cycle of vegetative and flowering states in advanced.
In order to stay within legal limits of cultivation, you must time when to begin harvest and when to begin flowering your plants into the mature stage, as to never have more than 3 plants blooming at any given time. If you are caught with more than 3 plants flowering per 1 adult in a residency, you are subject to fines and forfeiture of cannabis plants.
For example, you can’t plant all 6 plants in the beginning because that will result in 6 plants reaching the mature stage together, which is illegal. You have to start by planting only 3 cannabis plants. You will want to wait about 10 weeks in before you plant the next 3 plants. That way, there are two separate cycles of cannabis plants growing, and only 3 of the plants ever reach mature stage in the given cycle.
With more experience, you can begin shortening the gap between when the cycles begin and end. In order to get expert advice on how to do this, I recommend you joint the DC Cannabis Growers Club, (more on this weekly event below).
Where can I grow weed in my house in DC?
DC allows you to grow in your house as long as the grow can not be seen by the public. This means that neighbors shouldn’t be able to see your cannabis plants through windows, everything must be blocked off and in a separate room away from minors as well.
You cannot grow in your backyard or your front yard, as these are spaces that are visible to the public. The best places to grow is a separate room, garage, or a grow tent. A grow tent allows you to create a private and enclosed environment for your marijuana plants.
In order to avoid complaints from neighbors, using a carbon scrubber to filter out the smells of the cannabis plant during the mature state will help.
It is also illegal to grow within 1000 feet of public buildings, schools, youth centers, swimming pools, day cares, libraries, Federal properties or Federal public housing.
Join the DC Cultivation Community
If you are new to growing cannabis you know just how overwhelming the process can be from picking your medium (hydroponics, soil, organic, aquaponics) to finding the perfect recipe of cannabis plant nutrients.
Luckily, DC has a Cannabis Grow Club, which is a DC weed event that happens every Tuesday just outside of DC in Leesburg, Virginia. Hosted by District Hemp Botanical, the Cannabis Growers Club is a great community to network and learn from some of the successful growers in the DMV area.
Seasoned horticulturists will share insight and tips to help you maximize your yields and produce trichome rich cannabis plants, no matter your growing limitations.
Is growing paraphernalia legal in DC?
DC paraphernalia laws allows for you to possess cannabis growing paraphernalia such as grow lights and grow tents, but to not exceed amounts for personal use. In other words, you can only have enough grow paraphernalia like nutrients, fans, and grow trays for 6 marijuana plants with only 3 being in harvest state at any given time.
If you are caught with enough grow lights for a large scale grow operation to fund a local dispensary, then you are no longer cultivating for personal use and are now cultivating for distribution, which requires a license.
For small home grows, all the grow paraphernalia is legal from cloning trays, curing trimmers, soil, pots, LED lights, CO2, as long as it’s intended for 6 plants per adult.
Initiative 71 legalized possession and consumption of marijuana, but due to the Harris Rider bill DC was blocked from using local funds to create a recreational market. For the last 8 years, if you were not a DC medical marijuana card holder you were expected to grow your own cannabis for recreational use. Luckily that has changed now as DC is home to over 100 I71 gifting stores. If you are new to gifting, check out our guide on what gifting in DC is.
Growing cannabis in DC can be a tricky process, as the law sets a limit on the amount of flowering plants. While you are allowed to grow 6 plants, the truth is you are only legally allowed to harvest 3 plants at any given time. Growing weed in DC comes down to timing out your cannabis plant cycles, and this can be tricky for first timers, so I recommend you join DC’s local Cannabis Growers Club for more in-depth resources from local DC cultivators.