Can Members of Private Clubs Smoke Inside the Club in DC?

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When cannabis was first legalized in Washington DC., the lack of open consumption areas or recreational dispensaries fostered a gray market of meetups, vendors, and private smoke clubs. Over time, law enforcement in the District realized this was happening, and would attempt to track down the locations of these private clubs and shut them down through fines, revoking business licenses, and even threatening the arrest of distributors and event hosts.

In the past, club members may have been allowed to consume cannabis at the location where the club was being hosted. However, things have changed. Today, being a member of a cannabis club will most likely only mean that you are able to be gifted products from vendors at an event, and may have to wait until you are home to try out your new products.

In 2016, just about a year after cannabis was made legal for adult use through Initiative 71 in DC, the district’s lawmaking council passed another regulation banning social cannabis clubs in the area. As a result, you may not find many well-known cannabis social clubs or groups in the DC area because of the fear of establishments such as nightclubs or restaurants losing their operating licenses or risk being fined thousands.

Although marijuana smoking clubs don’t exist openly in Washington DC anymore, there are other methods of getting together and making connections with other locals or visitors to the DC area who share a passion for cannabis and may even have gifts to share with others later on. Another unique option is to enroll in a private, cannabis-friendly arts class, where you can unwind, be creative, and partake in a little bit of cannabis without fear of being persecuted. Many of these companies prefer to host small groups of people at a time as well since it makes the session less intimidating and more intimate, friendly, and open.  Unfortunately, due to recent events with COVID, many of these have been cancelled.

Despite the current lack of cannabis social clubs in Washington DC because of fear of breaking the law, there is still a strong push to eventually allow cannabis clubs to come into existence for users to relax and enjoy their flower.  Many brands and local businesses have their eyes on the club/ lounge idea as a supplement to the dispensaries.

Currently, these institutions have been established in some of the forefather states of cannabis legalization, like Colorado and California. Advocates also have the inspiration to draw from internationally, as Canada has begun to slowly integrate social clubs into their cities as well. Hopefully, by watching and learning from the businesses operating in these areas, other jurisdictions, like DC, will begin to see the benefit these companies bring to their respected locales, and will once again loosen the terms discussed in Initiative 71, finally allow the sale of cannabis, and also continue to nurture their cannabis economy.  Regardless, we envision ourselves at the forefront working to help the cause.

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