Marijuana now being sold, legally, in our nation's capital
More than 14 years after nearly 70% of D.C. residents voted to allow seriously ill District residents to have safe, legal access, medical marijuana is now a reality in D.C. In late July, just blocks from the Capitol Building, Capital City Care opened its doors and made its first sale to an HIV positive patient who uses medical marijuana to treat the insomnia and digestive problems caused by his antiviral medications. Two other dispensaries also opened shortly thereafter, and three cultivation centers are growing marijuana to supply those dispensaries, all regulated by the District Department of Health.
While it’s exciting to know that the program is now up and running, it’s important to remember that patients cannot legally possess marijuana unless it was purchased from a dispensary. Even if you have been issued an ID card by the Department of Health, it’s still illegal for anyone, including patients, to possess or use marijuana in the District, unless it was purchased from a dispensary.
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. Councilman Tommy Wells has introduced legislation that would provide for civil citations – no arrests and no criminal charges – for possession of under an ounce of marijuana. Please write your councilmembers 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.
Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project. To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Washington, D.C., be sure to subscribe to MPP's free legislative alert service, if you haven't done so already.