D.C. Laws Regarding Marijuana
All fifty states have different laws in relation to what is considered illegal in terms of marijuana possession. The District of Columbia allows the possession of marijuana for medical purposes. As research shows that marijuana can assist in treatment for some medical conditions, laws allow certain amounts of marijuana to be legal. Marijuana has been proven to assist in nausea relief, pain relief, glaucoma treatment, treating spasticity, stimulating appetites, and many disorders restricting movement.
Drug offenses in Washington DC
Drug offenses is a wide range of crimes, including:
- Simple Possession: This is simply the ownership and control of a controlled substance, for your own use. While it is now legal to possess 2oz or less of marijuana, other controlled substances, such as cocaine, PCP and heroin are all strictly criminalized.
- Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID): More serious than Simple Possession, a PWID charge indicates the police believe you are selling drugs to others. This is most commonly the case when someone is arrested with a large quantity of drugs, as the police automatically assume the defendant intended to sell those drugs.
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: This charge often tags along with PWID, and refers to possession of items that the police associate with drug dealers and drug sales. When discovered near drugs, digital scales, small plastic baggies, razor blades, and small vials are assumed to be related to the distribution and sale of drugs, leading to this charge.
- Manufacturing a Controlled Substance: From cooking meth to growing marijuana, this charge encompasses any sort of production of drugs.
In the District of Columbia any amount of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor offense, unless otherwise deemed for medical purposes. A marijuana misdemeanor offense can result in a fine of one thousand dollars and up to six months in jail. Those who are convicted for a first offense may be eligible for probation where all charges will be dismissed once the probationary time period is complete. Unlike the fifty states, the District of Columbia does not specifically provide different penalties based on the amount of marijuana a person possesses upon arrest.
Cultivation and Sale
The sale or cultivation of any amount of marijuana is considered a felony offense and can result in a fine up to fifty thousand dollars and up to five years in prison. If a sale is made within one thousand feet of or on school property, or any other specific areas, an individual will be convicted of a double felony. This kind of sale will result in a double fine penalty of one hundred thousand dollars and double incarceration penalty up to ten years in prison. Specified areas include public housing, libraries, youth centers, pools, playgrounds, and arcades.
Selling marijuana to a minor, no matter the amount, will also result in a double felony offense. Under these circumstances an individual will also have doubled incarceration penalties no greater than ten years and doubled fine penalties no greater than one hundred thousand dollars.
The District of Columbia also has specific laws in relation to the circumstances around marijuana crimes. Any individual who is convicted of a marijuana charge, either misdemeanor offense or felony offense, will automatically have his or her driver’s license suspended. Driver’s license suspension varies and is based on the kind of crime — possession, trafficking, cultivation, or sale — and can range from six months of suspension to two years of suspension.
The possession of paraphernalia is considered a misdemeanor offense and can result in thirty days of incarceration and a fine of one hundred dollars. The sale of paraphernalia is considered a misdemeanor offense and can result in a fine of one thousand dollars and up to six months in jail. Selling paraphernalia to a minor is a felony offense in the District of Columbia and will result in a fine of fifteen thousand dollars and up to eight years of incarceration.
The District of Columbia has conditional release alternatives for first-time offenders. If an individual is to be prosecuted for a marijuana offense, he or she can instead choose a probationary time period rather than be subject to criminal trial. The arrest and charge is then erased from the individual’s record when he or she completes probation.