D.C. medical marijuana program on course for February launch
More than 14 years after nearly 70% of D.C. residents voted to allow seriously ill District residents to have safe, legal access to medical marijuana, the long wait for some patients in our nation’s capital will soon come to an end. The District’s Department of Health awarded registrations to prospective cultivation center operators in March and to dispensary operators in June. You can view a list of those businesses and their locations at the District's medical marijuana program website. If you'd like to read more, the Washington Post recently profiled one of those dispensaries, which is expected to open in February.
While it’s exciting to know that the program will be fully implemented soon, it’s important to remember that patients cannot legally possess marijuana unless it was purchased from a dispensary, and since none have opened, it’s still illegal for anyone, including patients, to possess or use marijuana in the District, even if they have doctors’ recommendations.
If you are a patient who might benefit from the medical use of marijuana, you should first talk to your doctor. You will need to obtain the necessary paperwork from the Department of Health, and your doctor will need to sign a form certifying your qualification for the program. Please note that only patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma qualify as of this time, though we will work to broaden the list of qualifying conditions. If you are interested in applying to operate a dispensary or cultivation center, please contact the Department of Health’s Health Regulation and Licensing Administration.
In the meantime, if you’d like to share your story or see how you can help us in improving the District’s medical marijuana program, send us an email. You can also subscribe to our email alerts to stay up to date on all the latest news on medical marijuana in D.C.
D.C. Marijuana Laws (non-medical)
Did you know that the arrest rate for blacks in D.C. is over eight times that of whites?! Possession of any amount of marijuana — even as little as a single gram — is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Despite tough laws and even tougher enforcement, the use rate for marijuana in D.C. is the third highest in the country, and it’s growing — suggesting marijuana prohibition has been more effective in destroying families and widening racial divides than in preventing marijuana use.
It’s time for a new approach. Write your elected officials and urge them to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. For more on the negative consequences of the District’s harsh marijuana laws, including arrest and enforcement trends, check out this excellent report from Jon Gettman, Ph.D.
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