Capital High

D.C. pot prohibition ends


At 12:01 a.m. on February 26, possession of marijuana became legal in the nation's capital. D.C. voters overwhelmingly approved the legalization measure, known as Initiative 71, last November, but it could not go into effect until after a 30-day review period that began in January, during which the new Congress could have voted to repeal it.

The measure allows Washington residents 21 and older to cultivate up to six pot plants in their homes; to possess up to two ounces and give away up to an ounce; and to smoke it on private property. It does not allow the sale of marijuana or its commercial production, nor can users partake in public places, such as bars and restaurants. And because the federal government still considers pot to be a banned substance, getting caught with it on federal land—which, it turns out, constitutes more than one-fifth of the District—can still get you arrested.

Although Congress failed to repeal the initiative, it threw the D.C. government a curveball by adding a rider to last December's spending bill prohibiting any of the money from being used "to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with" Schedule I substances such as marijuana. Newly elected mayor Muriel Bowser, pointing out that Initiative 71 had already been enacted, pledged to implement it anyway.