The current DC Statute on consumption of marijuana in public is clear and concise categorizing the act as a misdemeanor offense with significant penalties.  However if appears that the Major’s directive issued on September 21, 2018, limits the penalties to a non-custodial arrest and payment of $25 fine for posting and forfeiting.

The Statute specifically criminalizes consumption of  marijuana in or upon a public space including:

  1. A street, alley, park, sidewalk, or parking area;
  2. A vehicle in or upon any street, alley, park, or parking area; or
  3. Any place to which the public is invited. For the purposes of this subsection, and notwithstanding any other provision of law, a private club, which includes any building, facility, or premises used or operated by an organization or association for a common avocational purpose, such as a fraternal, social, educational, or recreational purpose, is a place to which the public is invited; provided, that a private club does not include a private residence.

The public impairment is also criminalized as:

  •  No person, whether in or on public or someone else’s private property, shall be impaired due to smoking or otherwise consuming marijuana and endanger the safety of himself, herself, or any other person or property.

The full excerpt  from the Major’s directive is provided below.  The directive clearly states that such offenses would be considered a citation issued offenses only and not arrest-able unless:

“Arrestees who are not considered eligible for a non-custodial arrest (61-D) for “Public Consumption of Marijuana” include: juveniles, people with diplomatic immunity, people with outstanding warrants, people who cannot be positively identified, people who may damage property or cause injury to themselves or others, people who an officer has reason to believe will not appear to answer the citation, and people subject to another criminal charge that is not eligible for a non-custodial arrest.”


For now it appears that the DC Police is more interested in enforcement and arrest at the marijuana pop-up events which are commercial in nature v. private individual usage.

Refer to our DC Drug Lawyer page for more information of this subject.

Categories: Criminal Defense.