Buying Weed in DC is Different

Now that cannabis is legal in many jurisdictions, the state authority has turned to regulation of sales to provide an orderly and transparent market. However, the legal situation in Washington, DC, isn’t as straight forward as it is in Colorado or Washington State. DC has a large degree of home-rule; that is, the elected city council gets to govern unimpeded to an extent.

However, the District of Columbia is federal territory – Congress is the ultimate authority. That creates a problem when the locals legalize marijuana and the Feds still have it on the same naughty list as heroin and LSD. The local rules have had to accommodate the federal laws in ways the states have not. As a result, it’s easier to buy POT (Weekend Unlimited on the CSE) than it is to buy pot in DC.

The referendum that legalized marijuana in Washington, DC, are carefully crafted to avoid a head-on confrontation with the federal government. As a result, the rules are … strange. The DC Police explain what’s legal and what isn’t on their website, and it’s the clearest explanation I’ve read.

Basically, you have to be over 21, and you can have less than 2 ounces of weed and transport that. You can give another person over 21 up to an ounce.  You can have six plants at home, but three is the limit for mature flowering plants. You can possess in your home the marijuana you legally grew. And possession of paraphernalia is legal.

What’s illegal is possession of any cannabis if you are under 21, or having more than 2 ounces outside your home. You can’t consume it in public, and obviously, you can’t drive or operate a boat while using.

And you can’t sell it.

That’s right, you can’t legally sell marijuana in the nation’s capital. So, how do you get your hands on some pot if you don’t grow your own?

There are a number of services on the web that will deliver marijuana to you that stay just inside the law. You can find them on wheresweed.com, allbud.com or yelp.com (isn’t everyone on Yelp now?).

The way it works is quite simple. You send a text to them and they reply with a request that you provide proof of age. Without that, nothing happens. So, you take a photo of your ID, and text that to their number. That results in a reply listing their product line. The menu offers a variety of “Flower Gifts” including things like Skunk VA, Agent Orange and Blue Dream. It also says things like “$50 Race Car w/Free 3.5 Flower Gift” and a delivery and pick up minimum.

To get around the no-sales rule, you are technically buying a small plastic race car, a way down-market Hot Wheels toy. And you are paying $50 for it. And because you are such a cool person, the supplier wants to give you, out of the goodness of his/her heart, some free weed.

So, once you decide what kind of “race car” to buy, you text them back with your preferred flower gift, and your delivery spot. Soon enough, someone will pull up with your toys and gifts, you hand over the cash for the race cars, and everyone is happy.

Clearly, there has to be a great degree of trust when there is no physical dispensary, and when I started looking into this, I remembered the one guy in high school back in the 1970s who spent $20 on oregano he got from some guy in the park. The review websites give the suppliers incentive to deal honestly and fairly with the buyers.

The law is, on the face of it, ridiculous, but until the FDA gets around to rescheduling marijuana, this is the kind of ridiculousness we are going to have to accept.

J.D. Myhre is a journalist with 35 years’ experience. In that time, he has covered politics, economics,  the arts, and the energy, medical and tech sectors for publications around the world.