Code of the District of Columbia

§ 48–904.01. Prohibited acts A; penalties.

(a)(1) Except as authorized by this chapter or Chapter 16B of Title 7 [§ 7-1671.01 et seq.], it is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to manufacture, distribute, or possess, with intent to manufacture or distribute, a controlled substance. Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter to the contrary, it shall be lawful, and shall not be an offense under District of Columbia law, for any person 21 years of age or older to:

(A) Possess, use, purchase, or transport marijuana weighing 2 ounces or less;

(B) Transfer to another person 21 years of age or older, without remuneration, marijuana weighing one ounce or less;

(C) Possess, grow, harvest, or process, within the interior of a house or rental unit that constitutes such person’s principal residence, no more than 6 cannabis plants, with 3 or fewer being mature, flowering plants; provided, that all persons residing within a single house or single rental unit may not possess, grow, harvest, or process, in the aggregate, more than 12 cannabis plants, with 6 or fewer being mature, flowering plants;

(D) Possess within such house or rental unit the marijuana produced by such plants; provided that, nothing in this subsection shall make it lawful to sell, offer for sale, or make available for sale any marijuana or cannabis plants.

(1A)(A) The terms “controlled substance” and “controlled substances,” as used in the District of Columbia Official Code, shall not include:

(i) Marijuana that is or was in the personal possession of a person 21 years of age or older at any specific time if the total amount of marijuana that is or was in the possession of that person at that time weighs or weighed 2 ounces or less;

(ii) Cannabis plants that are or were grown, possessed, harvested, or processed by a person 21 years of age or older within the interior of a house or rental unit that constitutes or at the time constituted, such person’s principal residence, if such person at that time was growing no more than 6 cannabis plants with 3 or fewer being mature flowering plants and if all persons residing within that single house or single rental unit at that time did not possess, grow, harvest, or process, in the aggregate, more than 12 cannabis plants, with 6 or fewer being mature, flowering plants; or

(iii) The marijuana produced by the plants which were grown, possessed, harvested, or processed by a person who was, pursuant to sub-subparagraph (ii) of this subparagraph, permitted to grow, possess, harvest, and process such plants, if such marijuana is or was in the personal possession of that person who is growing or grew such plants, within the house or rental unit in which the plants are or were grown.

(B) Notwithstanding the provisions of this paragraph, the terms “controlled substance” and “controlled substances,” as used in the District of Columbia Official Code, shall include any marijuana or cannabis plant sold or offered for sale or made available for sale.

(1B) Notwithstanding any other provision of the District of Columbia Official Code, no District government agency or office shall limit or refuse to provide any facility service, program, or benefit to any person based upon or by reason of conduct that is made lawful by this subsection.

(1C) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require any District government agency or office, or any employer, to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale, or growing of marijuana in the workplace or to affect the ability of any such agency, office, or employer to establish and enforce policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees.

(1D) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to permit driving under the influence of marijuana or driving while impaired by use or ingestion of marijuana or to modify or affect the construction or application of any provision of the District of Columbia Official Code related to driving under the influence of marijuana or driving while impaired by marijuana.

(1E) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit any person, business, corporation, organization, or other entity, or District government agency or office, who or which occupies, owns, or controls any real property, from prohibiting or regulating the possession, consumption, use, display, transfer, distribution, sale, transportation, or growing of marijuana on or in that property.

(1F) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to make unlawful any conduct permitted by Chapter 16B of Title 7 [§ 7-1671.01 et seq.].

(2) Any person who violates this subsection with respect to:

(A) A controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II that is a narcotic or abusive drug shall be imprisoned for not more than 30 years or fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or both;

(B) Any other controlled substance classified in Schedule I, II, or III, except for a narcotic or abusive drug, is guilty of a crime and upon conviction may be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or both; except that upon conviction of manufacturing, distributing or possessing with intent to distribute ½ pound or less of marijuana, a person who has not previously been convicted of manufacturing, distributing or possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance or attempting to manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance may be imprisoned for not more than 180 days or fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01 or both;

(C) A substance classified in Schedule IV, is guilty of a crime and upon conviction may be imprisoned for not more than 3 years, fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or both; or

(D) A substance classified in Schedule V, is guilty of a crime and upon conviction may be imprisoned for not more than one year, fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or both.

(b)(1) Except as authorized by this chapter, it is unlawful for any person to create, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute a counterfeit substance.

(2) Any person who violates this subsection with respect to:

(A) A counterfeit substance classified in Schedule I or II that is a narcotic or abusive drug shall be imprisoned for not more than 30 years or fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or both;

(B) Any other counterfeit substance classified in Schedule I, II, or III, except for a narcotic or abusive drug, is guilty of a crime and upon conviction may be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or both;

(C) A counterfeit substance classified in Schedule IV, is guilty of a crime and upon conviction may be imprisoned for not more than 3 years, fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or both; or

(D) A counterfeit substance classified in Schedule V, is guilty of a crime and upon conviction may be imprisoned for not more than 1 year, fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or both.

(c) Repealed.

(d)(1) It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess a controlled substance unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his or her professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by this chapter or Chapter 16B of Title 7 [§ 7-1671.01 et seq.], and provided in § 48-1201. Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, any person who violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction may be imprisoned for not more than 180 days, fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or both.

(2) Any person who violates this subsection by knowingly or intentionally possessing the abusive drug phencyclidine in liquid form is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, may be imprisoned for not more than 3 years, fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or both.

(e)(1) If any person who has not previously been convicted of violating any provision of this chapter, or any other law of the United States or any state relating to narcotic or abusive drugs or depressant or stimulant substances is found guilty of a violation of subsection (d) of this section and has not previously been discharged and had the proceedings dismissed pursuant to this subsection, the court may, without entering a judgment of guilty and with the consent of such person, defer further proceedings and place him or her on probation upon such reasonable conditions as it may require and for such period, not to exceed one year, as the court may prescribe. Upon violation of a condition of the probation, the court may enter an adjudication of guilt and proceed as otherwise provided. The court may, in its discretion, dismiss the proceedings against such person and discharge him or her from probation before the expiration of the maximum period prescribed for such person’s probation. If during the period of probation such person does not violate any of the conditions of the probation, then upon expiration of such period the court shall discharge such person and dismiss the proceedings against him or her. Discharge and dismissal under this subsection shall be without court adjudication of guilt, but a nonpublic record thereof shall be retained solely for the purpose of use by the courts in determining whether or not, in subsequent proceedings, such person qualifies under this subsection. Such discharge or dismissal shall not be deemed a conviction for purposes of disqualifications or disabilities imposed by law upon conviction of a crime (including the penalties prescribed under § 48-904.08 for second or subsequent convictions) or for any other purpose.

(2) Upon the dismissal of such person and discharge of the proceedings against him under paragraph (1) of this subsection, such person may apply to the court for an order to expunge from all official records (other than the nonpublic records to be retained under paragraph (1) of this subsection) all recordation relating to his or her arrest, indictment or information, trial, finding of guilty, and dismissal and discharge pursuant to this subsection. If the court determines, after hearing, that such person was dismissed and the proceedings against him or her discharged, it shall enter such order. The effect of such order shall be to restore such person, in the contemplation of this law, to the status he or she occupied before such arrest or indictment or information. No person as to whom such order has been entered shall be held thereafter under any provision of any law to be guilty of perjury or otherwise giving a false statement by reason of failure to recite or acknowledge such arrest, or indictment, or trial in response to any inquiry made of him or her for any purpose.

(3) A person who was discharged from probation and whose case was dismissed pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be entitled to a copy of the nonpublic record retained under paragraph (1) of this subsection but only to the extent that such record would have been available to the person before an order of expungement was entered pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection. A request for a copy of the nonpublic record may be made ex parte and under seal by the person or by an authorized representative of the person.

(f) The prosecutor may charge any person who violates the provisions of subsection (a) or (b) of this section relating to the distribution of or possession with intent to distribute a controlled or counterfeit substance with a violation of subsection (d) of this section if the interests of justice so dictate.

(g) For the purposes of this section, “offense” means a prior conviction for a violation of this section or a felony that relates to narcotic or abusive drugs, marijuana, or depressant or stimulant drugs, that is rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction in the United States.


(Aug. 5, 1981, D.C. Law 4-29, § 401, 28 DCR 3081; Nov. 17, 1981, D.C. Law 4-52, § 3(c)(1), 28 DCR 4348; Mar. 9, 1983, D.C. Law 4-166, §§ 9, 10, 30 DCR 1082; Sept. 26, 1984, D.C. Law 5-121, § 2(a), 31 DCR 4046; Mar. 15, 1985, D.C. Law 5-171, § 2(a), 32 DCR 730; Feb. 28, 1987, D.C. Law 6-201, § 2(c), 34 DCR 524; June 13, 1990, D.C. Law 8-138, § 2(c), 37 DCR 2638; Aug. 20, 1994, D.C. Law 10-151, § 112(a), 41 DCR 2608; May 25, 1995, D.C. Law 10-258,§ 3, 42 DCR 238; Apr. 18, 1996, D.C. Law 11-110, § 34(b), 43 DCR 530; June 8, 2001, D.C. Law 13-300, § 2(c), 47 DCR 7037; July 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-196, § 2, 57 DCR 4522; July 27, 2010, D.C. Law 18-210, § 3(c), 57 DCR 4798; June 11, 2013, D.C. Law 19-317, § 252(a), 60 DCR 2064; June 15, 2013, D.C. Law 19-319, § 5, 60 DCR 2333; July 17, 2014, D.C. Law 20-126, § 408, 61 DCR 3482; Feb. 26, 2015, D.C. Law 20-153, § 2, 62 DCR 880.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 33-541.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-403, § 23-546, § 24-112, § 24-221.06, § 24-906, § 48-904.06, § 48-904.07, § 48-904.07a, and § 48-905.02.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-300, in subsec. (a), par. (2)(A), substituted “both; except that upon conviction of manufacturing, distributing or possessing with intent to distribute ½ pound or less of marijuana, a person who has not previously been convicted of manufacturing, distributing or possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance or attempting to manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance may be imprisoned for not more than 180 days or fined not more than $1000 or both” for “both”.

D.C. Law 18-196 rewrote subsec. (d), which had read as follows: “(d) It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess a controlled substance unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his or her professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by this chapter. Any person who violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction may be imprisoned for not more than 180 days, fined not more than $1,000, or both.”

D.C. Law 18-210, in subsec. (a)(1), substituted “Except as authorized by this chapter or Chapter 16B of Title 7,” for “Except as authorized by this chapter”; and, in subsec. (d), substituted “except as otherwise authorized by this chapter or Chapter 16B of Title 7” for “except as otherwise authorized by this chapter”.

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-317 substituted “not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01” for “not more than $500,000” in (a)(2)(A); in (a)(2)(B), substituted the first occurrence of “not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01” for “not more than $50,000” and the second occurrence for “not more than $1,000”; substituted “not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01” for “not more than $25,000” in (a)(2)(C) and for “not more than $10,000” in (a)(2)(D); in (b)(2), substituted “not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01” for “not more than $500,000” in (b)(2)(A), for “not more than $50,000” in (b)(2)(B), for “not more than $25,000” in (b)(2)(C), and for “not more than $10,000” in (b)(2)(D); and in (d), substituted “not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01” for “not more than $1,000” in (d)(1), and for “not more than $3,000” in (d)(2).

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-319 added (e)(3).

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-153 rewrote (a).

Cross References

Duties, powers, and goals of Prison Commission, see § 24-112.

Good time credits, exceptions, see § 24-221.06.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 252(a) of the Criminal Fine Proportionality Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-45, April 1, 2013, 60 DCR 5400, 20 DCSTAT 1300).

Editor's Notes

Mayor to implement public information program: See Historical and Statutory Notes following § 48-901.02.

Applicability of D.C. Law 19-317: Section 401 of D.C. Law 19-317 provided that the act shall apply only to offenses committed on or after June 11, 2013.

Section 4 of D.C. Law 20-153 provided that the amounts of the fines set forth in § 22-3571.01 and § 48-1103 shall be adjusted through implementing or amending legislation enacted by the Council of the District of Columbia to the extent necessary to ensure that the act does not negate or limit any act of the Council of the District of Columbia pursuant to § 1-204.46.

Section 809 of through 113 P.L. 235 provided:

“(a) None of the Federal funds contained in this Act may be used to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act ( 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.

“(b) None of the funds contained in this Act may be used to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act ( 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative for recreational purposes.”