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Drug Offenses

In Washington, D.C., certain drug offenses are punished more severely than others. For instance, possession of certain small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized, while possessing certain street drugs can carry significant jail time. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug offense, be sure to keep abreast of the current District of Columbia drug laws.

drug pills

Possession With Intent to Distribute (PWID)

In Washington, D.C. it is illegal to manufacture or distribute any controlled substance, or possess any controlled substance with the intent to manufacture or distribute it. A PWID charge essentially assumes that an individual was selling drugs or intended to do so. This can be inferred through the quantity of the drugs and/or other factors such as paraphernalia (e.g., baggies) used in the sale of drugs.
Penalty: Depending on the schedule of the controlled substance, and whether the drug is a narcotic or abusive drug, an individual with a PWID conviction can face up to 30 years incarceration, a fine, or both. If however, a person is facing his or her first PWID charge, and the substance is ½ pound of marijuana or less, the person can face up to 180 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Possession of a Controlled Substance

According to D.C. Code section 48-904.01, it is illegal to possess a controlled substance in the District of Columbia unless the substance is obtained pursuant to a valid prescription from an authorized professional.

Penalty: A possession charge can carry up to 180 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

In Washington, D.C., it is unlawful to possess drug paraphernalia unless it is being used by an authorized professional in the scope of his or her duties. This includes any hypodermic needle, syringe, or other instrument containing any trace of a controlled substance on it, if it is being used for the purpose of administering a controlled substance to a person.

Penalty: The penalty for possession of drug paraphernalia is up to 180 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Possession of Marijuana

In Washington, D.C., individuals 21 years of age and older can possess, use, purchase, or transport up to 2 ounces or less of marijuana. People 21 years of age and older can also transfer up to 1 ounce or less of marijuana to another person who is 21 years of age and older so long as they are not receiving payment for the marijuana. In addition, it is legal for an individual 21 years of age and older to grow within his or her residence up to 6 cannabis plants with up to 3 of them being mature flowering plants. However, within any given house or residence with multiple occupants, there cannot be more than 12 cannabis plants, with 6 of them being mature watering plants.


NOTE: In the District of Columbia it remains illegal to sell marijuana or marijuana plants. It is still possible to receive a criminal charge for possession of marijuana or possession with intent to distribute marijuana if a person possesses quantities of marijuana outside of the permissible limits.

Contact Us

If you have been charged with a drug offense in Washington, D.C., contact us or call (202) 403-2292 to speak with a qualified lawyer to handle your drug case.

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