If you’re the 4-20 type, here’s how you can celebrate locally, legally

Celebrating 4-20? Marijuana laws have changed a lot in recent years. Here’s what to know on marking the date in the D.C. region — legally.

Marijuana laws have changed a lot in the recent months and years, and more changes are in the pipeline. But if you wanted to celebrate what is unofficially a holiday (of sorts) for cannabis users, and wanted to do it legally, the good news is, you can.

But how one can celebrate legally has a lot more variance around the D.C. region.

What’s legal in DC, and what isn’t

In the District, possession of marijuana is legal, but Congress has prevented the city from setting up a legal, regulated and retail market. Medical marijuana is legal though, and you can find a licensed dispensary in six of the city’s eight wards (there are none in Wards 3 or 5).

Getting a card from the city to buy marijuana for medical use doesn’t require much more than a government ID showing you live in the city. After that, you can “self-certify” that you suffer from a condition that can be treated with medicinal marijuana — no doctor’s note needed.

The other option is to go to stores considered “Initiative 71 compliant.” These are not medical dispensaries. Instead, you go to those stores and buy something else — a shirt or a piece of art for example — and the owner then gives you a small amount of marijuana as a gift for purchasing the other product.

What’s legal in Virginia, and what isn’t

Virginia legalized the possession of cannabis back in 2021, but lawmakers never subsequently passed regulations that would allow for a legal retail market. The result is you can possess it, in small amounts, but to legally buy it in Virginia you need to get a doctor to assert you have a condition that needs treated with medicinal marijuana.

There are medical dispensaries around the commonwealth. You’re allowed to possess up to an ounce of product. Possessing between 1 and 4 ounces is a civil penalty punishable with a $500 fine. Having more than 4 ounces of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor crime under a law passed last year.

A conviction will go on your record. Having more than a pound of marijuana is a felony. More information about what you can and can’t do in Virginia can be found here.

What’s legal in Maryland, and what isn’t

Back in January, it became legal to possess what’s considered a personal amount of cannabis product. The definition of that depends on the form it comes in.

Adults over 21 can have up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower, or 12 grams of concentrated cannabis, or a total amount of products that doesn’t exceed 750 mg of THC.

There’s no legal retail outlet to buy from yet, but that changes on July 1. It’s never a good idea to drive under the influence of marijuana, and for a few more months, cops in Maryland can pull you over if they detect the odor coming from your vehicle.

A full summary of what you can and can’t do in Maryland can be found here.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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