Barring a congressional intervention, marijuana possession will become legal in Washington at 12:01 Thursday morning, but with a slew of caveats.
First off, weed is still illegal on the federal level, and there’s a lot of federal land in the District. In fact, according to the Washington Post, 29 percent of the Washington is federally owned. Those lands include Capitol Hill and the National Mall, including all its adjacent structures, like the Lincoln Memorial and National Monument. Remember, that also includes the Smithsonian Museum and the National Art Gallery, so those who want to blaze before hitting an exhibit or the planetarium should plan ahead and leave their leftovers and paraphernalia at home. They should also take the metro, since driving under the influence of marijuana will still be illegal. The same goes for any visits to the National Zoo.
Of course, regardless of whether those areas were federally owned, it would be illegal to actually smoke there. Once the ordinance goes into effect, D.C. residents over the age of 21 will be allowed to have, grow or smoke small amounts of pot only in the privacy of their own homes.
Possession of marijuana in federally subsidized public housing will also remain illegal.
The ordinance was passed by through a ballot measure in November, and drew the ire of lawmakers, which prevented the city from coming up with a framework for regulating the sale of marijuana. Consequently the city is emphasizing a quietly rustic pot culture with the phrase, “Home use. Home grown,” the Post reported. Selling or seeking to buy the drug will still be illegal. Washington’s mayor, Muriel Bowser has asked the city council to enact legislation that will block workarounds like clubs or “coffee shops” from operating in the district.
In case you wanted to know what reefer madness on the National Mall would look like, it actually happened—in 1970, of course. President Richard Nixon’s supporters declared that year’s Independence Day “Honor America Day,” and held a rally at the Lincoln Memorial. Bob Hope was the master of ceremonies. At the same time, demonstrators descended upon the national mall and held a “smoke-in,” advocating for the legalization of marijuana. According to a Time article about the day, “they did not succeed in marring the simplicity of Honor America Day.”
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