A STRUGGLE from Medical to "Rec."
Over the years, there have been many resources online designed to help those tokers who are not familiar with the District figure out how to get weed in Washington, D.C. This originated with Craigslist and other web or dark-web resources before the legalization of cannabis in any form. Many people also used to resort to the nightlife-oriented club scene where flyers from shadowy figures in parking lots provided numbers for 24-hour weed delivery services. But, could any of these black market alternatives really be trusted? It was a little like rolling the dice every time, and those who wished to medicate with cannabis were left to navigate the best underground networks they could find and hope they were headed in the right direction.
In 1998, there was a surge of hope as DC voters sought to legalize medical cannabis by approving Ballot Initiative 59. However, this hope was tempered when Congress passed the Barr Amendment preventing the District's use of funds to implement and support the medical cannabis program. It wasn't until 2009, when the amendment was overturned, that the program was truly able to move forward. By 2011 legalization formalized, allowing dispensaries and cultivation centers to operate following an arduous permitting process. At last, in 2013, the first marijuana dispensary sale to a patient occurred, some 15 years after initial approval of Initiative 59 🤦♂️.
Yet, the DC medicinal laws were extremely stringent, stifling the potential revenue and growth of dispensaries and leaving out many with ailments who would benefit. These individuals were still forced to turn to alternative, black-market sources. Thankfully, in 2014 the DC Council voted to decriminalize marijuana possession altogether - an effort which some in Congress still attempted to block.
After a relentless push and with momentum on their side, voters overwhelmingly approved ballot Initiative 71 on November 4, 2014, which finally legalized the recreational use of cannabis in Washington, D.C.! Approved by nearly 65% of voters, the measure went into full effect on February 26, 2015 and allowed DC persons over the age of 21 to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, grow up to three mature and three immature marijuana plants in their homes, and transfer up to one ounce of marijuana to another individual. Drug paraphernalia, such as bongs, were also legalized. However the sale, purchase, and public consumption of marijuana remains illegal in DC to this day. Additionally, US Federal law continues to be in opposition of DC's legalization efforts.
With the advent of Initiative 71, DC residents began getting creative about the ways they could legally transfer marijuana to other individuals. Soon services popped up that offered various items (baked goods, candy, action figures, etc.) for sale, which came with a gift of cannabis. After passing some brief tests with law enforcement, these services caught on. In no time, there were dozens of services and even daily events with cannabis fans gathering en masse to tour exhibits of local I-71 services' offerings. The scene was vibrant and rapidly evolving with new entrants to the market everyday.
While the recreational cannabis scene in DC was gaining steam, there was still a multitude of people both within DC and in neighboring states who wanted to get their hands on these new, legal cannabis gifts. Yet, many found the laws extremely confusing and others would spend hours online trying to find reputable services, only to be ripped off by an Instagram spoofer. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
It was during this time that some cannabis directories and resources began to appear in order to help solve the problem of how to find weed in DC (without getting ripped off). Some of these resources turned out to be fairly valuable, but not without controversy (see Gentleman Toker) and certainly not with any consistency. In fact, it was within this conceptual framework that Toker's Guide was born - helping D.C. connoisseurs find the best weed and avoid the common pitfalls others have experienced while undertaking said mission. We thought showing people what we, as connoisseurs, seek out and consume, and what services we frequent, would be enough of a helping hand to lend, especially with other resources seemingly aplenty.
However, a resent survey by your fellow connoisseurs at Toker's Guide has found that most of the basic informational resources on Initiative 71 are incomplete, outdated, riddled with typos and grammatical errors, or fairly misleading in their guidance. Therefore, we've created a general review for how DC recreational works below, but very recently we've also published our new guide How to Buy Weed Safely in DC in 2022.
DC I-71 RECREATIONAL Cannabis
In terms of recreational cannabis in DC, the situation is still not the most ideal, but at least there are a significant amount of places who are set up for pick-up and delivery of cannabis "gifts". That's right, in case you missed our discussion above and found yourself here, in DC recreational cannabis cannot be sold, it can only be gifted from one person to another.
This neat little situation was created by DC Initiative 71 and the services born of this movement are known as "Initiative 71 Compliant Vendors". These vendors sell things like stickers, cookies, action figures, art work, and various other items which all come with a "gift" of cannabis. One vendor, Top Secret DC, actually sells "little known secrets about Washington D.C." and gifts from an extensive menu of potential...gifts. Another vendor, DefCan, is owned and operated by deaf artists who sell their paintings and gift cannabis - certainly a noble pursuit!
At Toker's Guide, we help navigate the vast sea of Initiative 71 Compliant Vendors in DC by perusing their menus, choosing gifts we would partake in ourselves, and reviewing them so our audience can go where we go and smoke (or vape) what we do. If you're having difficulty choosing a shop, or if you just don't even know where to start, we're here to help. In fact, this is our purpose!
For those of you who have an idea of how it works and you want to find a great shop, check out our weed services listings, our top five services providers, and our extensive library of reviews tagged to each I-71 vendor. For those of you who are completely new to I-71 and aren't sure how it works, please proceed below.
How it works
The way it typically works is that you find a place either online (hopefully through a trusted resource like Toker's Guide) or on Instagram, then you send them a message after taking a look at their gift menu. Note that in some cases you have to request their menu or even request access to their site/feed. The message that you send should be according to the vendors stated preference, but will most likely be a text. Some services may request that you contact them through Instagram at first, but this is not necessarily a great sign.
The response to your initial message may ask you to verify your age by sending a photo of your identity along with a selfie (in DC you must be 21 years of age or older to possess and consume cannabis). Try not to be alarmed at this step. This is a fairly common practice among most of the major vendors and with almost all of them you only have to do it the first time. Think about it, these guys actually have quite a bit at risk, wouldn't you want to verify age and identity on some level too? Anyhow, what I do is hold up my ID and take a selfie, then I edit that selfie on my phone to redact the more important or sensitive information.
After this step, you'll likely be asked to provide a delivery address or you'll be given an address for pick-up.
Delivery should be pretty straight forward. If you've gotten a pizza delivered to you, then you know the basics of the routine. You contact them, they take your address, you give them your order, they deliver it to the address. Easy right? The only exceptions might be the timing. Some of these services are still small and unsophisticated, others get insanely busy. You may find that placing your order in the morning for an evening delivery ensures that they can get to you. Other times a service may provide you with a window of time when their driver is going out on their route. The best services will likely be able to get your order to you in an hour or less provided it's not a super busy time like Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights or on 420 (4/20 - April 20th - is a weed holiday, k newbs?).
Please realize that banking in this day and age is still a challenge for many vendors, so cash may be the only option for some. Others do provide digital payment options like Square's Cash App (somewhat common) or Venmo (rare). I would be leery to provide payment to any place asking for other types of services. I have also never used bitcoin or crypto to procure cannabis in DC - it just adds unnecessary steps and expense.
Over Instagram, be very very careful. There are many scams on Instagram where people pretend to be legitimate businesses, get you to send them your money, and then disappear or become unresponsive. The better scenario is to find a reputable vendor (again, see Toker's Guide Weed Services page) and not have to worry about where you are sending your money.
Finally, since we live in COVID times, intelligent delivery services are taking extra steps for contact-less deliveries in order to stay healthy. Of course, no one wants to get sick, so masks are recommended when interacting with your driver.
It used to be that some services would offer the opportunity to show up to a hotel or AirBnB and select your cannabis gifs from a veritable make-shift dispensary spread. Since the outset of the pandemic, these types of pick-up scenarios have ended almost entirely. However, there are many services who will offer an address somewhere in the city where they will meet you either at your car or on foot.
This type of experience can be somewhat alarming at first. Is it really ok to make these types of transactions in public? The answer is actually, yes. It's legal to possess cannabis in public in the district and someone is giving you that cannabis so this is all above board. Note, however, that it is still illegal to smoke or consume cannabis anywhere other than private property. So, even though you will inevitably smell that sweet sweet cheeba pretty much everywhere in DC, if you light up on the street you MAY get scolded from time to time (but they could throw the book at you if they wanted to - unlikely).
DC MEDICAL Marijuana
As of August 8th, 2019 If you have a medical cannabis card from any other state, then by reciprocity DC medical dispensaries are able to welcome you with open arms! Prior to this date DC would only recognize medical cards from 19 states. Now patients from all 33 states currently with medical marijuana programs can obtain their medicine from one of the District's seven medical marijuana dispensaries. Check out our listings for the DC medical cannabis dispensaries here.
Find the BEST weed in DC
Now that you know how it works and how to find weed in DC in general, wouldn't you like to know how to find the BEST weed in DC? That's where Toker's Guide comes in. We're a jolly band of cannabis connoisseurs with 100+ years of experience between us. We are continuously scouting out the best cannabis gifts and products (whether recreational or medical), reviewing them with high quality photos and insights, and then sharing them with our audience - whom we affectionately refer to as the Tokerverse.
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