Washington D.C. has seen several changes in marijuana policy and enforcement since voters approved Initiative 71 last election day. Legalization was officially enacted on February 26, and that changed the way that local authorities handle marijuana possession situations.
Before legalization went into effect, Mayor Muriel Bowser and Chief of Police Cathy L. Lanier, worked diligently to ensure all residents, members of local government, and local authorities were aware of exactly what is and what is not legal in the District. Most of the publicized communications were directed toward residents, but local police were also thoroughly informed.
A Special Order was issued to all officers which outlines the new regulations and procedures regarding legalization. It covers topics such as how to handle a public usage citation, how much marijuana is considered personal possession, and more.
This report highlights one very unique procedure that many residents did not expect. If a person has a legal amount of marijuana seized by police, under a couple of different circumstances, he or she may go to the police station to claim the seized marijuana no sooner than 24 hours after the citation is issued.
The conditions which allow a person’s marijuana to be returned include:
- If he or she does not have proof of age at the time of confiscation, but can produce it at a later time
- If he or she is arrested for a different non-violent offense, and the marijuana is seized at that time
In a situation where a person’s marijuana is seized, he or she will be issued a warning. At the time that the warning is issued, the officer is required to inform the person that he or she is eligible to have the marijuana returned.
The full version of the Special Report can be viewed here. The two areas that address this issue are shown above.
So far, at least one man has taken advantage of this new regulation, according to D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7). Alexander reported what she was told by the police station staff member who witnessed the incident. Alexander reported,
“He walked in to recover his property from a recent arrest. He walked in and said, ‘I want my property back, and want to make sure I get my weed back.'”
“They gave him his weed back!”
If the property is not claimed within 30 days, it will be destroyed.