Is Recreational Weed Legal in DC? (2023)

DC weed laws are among some of the most confusing when it comes to buying and selling recreational cannabis in 2023. In short, yes you can buy recreational weed, but it must be done through a legal loophole known as “gifting”.



Recreational weed is legal in DC to consume and possess but not to sell or buy due to the Harris Rider bill which currently blocks DC from creating laws to implement a legal recreational market. Currently, the gifting market which consist of over 100 dispensaries is the unregulated recreational market in DC.

You do not need a DC medical marijuana card to shop at an I71 Compliant gifting store, only a valid ID proving you are 21 years of age. As a long time DC resident, I actually prefer shopping at these gifting stores because they have lower prices and far stronger products. 

Pro-tip: Check out our guide on buying recreational weed in DC, which teaches you how to buy through the gifting loophole and the best vendors to buy from that are trusted within the DC community.

When will recreational cannabis be legalized?

Despite congress’s interference with DC’s recreational market, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has petitioned a new bill known as the Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2019. If this bill is passed, recreational cannabis will be legalized in DC, fingers crossed.

You can show your support by signing the petition here.

What is the Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2019?


The Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2019 is a proposed legislation by the DC mayor which will legalize the sales of recreational cannabis. If passed, the bill will allow many of the I71 gifting storefronts to convert into full on recreational dispensaries. 

Mayor Bowser’s priority is to regulate the currently unregulated gifting market, with a primary focus on regulating recreational THC products to test for dangerous chemicals, pesticides, and to focus on equity where communities that have been harmed by cannabis criminalization.

So what can we expect if the Safe Cannabis Sales Act is passed? Below, we discuss how this new Act could shape the future of DC’s legal recreational market.

Recreational purchasing limits

If The Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2019 is passed, anyone with a valid government ID that is 21 years or older will be able to purchase recreational marijuana legally.

The daily purchase limits per adult will be:


  • 1 oz of cured cannabis herbs
  • 5 grams of THC concentrates
  • 16 oz of infused edibles
  • 72 oz of liquid infused THC products


These recreational purchasing limits are per adult, and similar to many dispensaries in the US, you may be able to purchase your purchasing limit per dispensary. So if you wanted to buy more, technically you could just go to another dispensary.

Online recreational delivery will be legalized

Think DoorDash, but for weed. If The Safe Cannabis Sales Act passes, many of the I71 DC weed delivery vendors will become legitimate recreational delivery retailers. These businesses will not be brick and mortar, but will focus primarily on online delivery.

You simply upload your ID and take a selfie with your ID, and get cannabis delivered straight to your door. Delivery fees will be expected, and driver tips are another cost to factor as well, but the trade-off is you don’t have to drive through DC’s insane rush hour traffic.

You cannot consume recreational products in public

Another key focus of the legislation is the consumption of recreational THC products in public spaces. Initiative 71 legalized consumption, possession, and growing weed in DC, but you can only consume on private property.

The Safe Cannabis Sales Act will ban consumption in public spaces such as parks, schools, sidewalks, and roadways. DC is becoming progressively more and more pro-cannabis, even with public consumption, as new establishments that are cannabis smoke friendly will launch in early 2024.

The Medical Cannabis Amendment Act of 2022, is set to release new public approved locations where you can consume medical and recreational marijuana. The Safe-use facilities will be located inside medical dispensaries, where patients can smoke cannabis while listening to music and even order food. If you want a more up-beat smoke friendly environment, the Summer Garden endorsement will provide smoke friendly rooftop and open patios where live music, karaoke, food, and trivia will take place.

For those of you willing to take the risk, you can check out The Gentleman’s favorite places to smoke weed in DC publicly.

You will not be able to smoke at work

The Marijuana Employment Protections Amendment Act of 2023 is now changing DC drug testing laws for employees that are not working “Safety sensitive” occupations, such as security or surgeons, to be able to use recreational or medicinal cannabis during non-working hours.


The Safe Cannabis Sales Act focuses on the use of recreational cannabis during work hours, specifically at any work place. So whether you are employed or just visiting a work location, it will be illegal to smoke there. This will mean bars, restaurants, and hookah lounges will all not be allowed to allow customers to smoke cannabis on site.

Recreational cannabis tax rates

If you are a medical marijuana patient in DC, you can enjoy a low tax rate of only 5.75% for purchasing medical cannabis. There is no additional excise tax on medical cannabis in DC. 


If The Safe Cannabis Sales Act is passed, the recreational cannabis market will have a 17% tax rate, almost three times the amount of the medical marijuana tax rate in DC. 

During DC 420 week, which is the biggest sales week of the entire year for dispensaries, you can enjoy a tax relief for medical marijuana. Nothing has been confirmed yet if this tax relief during 420 will impact recreational dispensaries.

Final Thoughts

Recreational weed is not quite legal in DC, but you can purchase weed through the gifting loophole. Initiative 71 allows DC residents to gift cannabis, and currently there are over 100 I71 compliant gifting stores, where you can technically “buy” recreational cannabis. 

However, Mayor Bowser has petitioned for a new Act known as the Safe Cannabis Sales Act, and if passed will legalize recreational sales, recreational deliveries, and also set in place limitations on where you can smoke, how much you can buy, and the recreational cannabis tax rate of 17%.