Marijuana is legal for adults (no sales); medical marijuana law
D.C. Council holds historic hearing on legalizing cannabis sales
Last update: November 22, 2021
A public hearing was held on November 19 for D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson’s “The Comprehensive Legalization and Regulation Act of 2021,” a bill to regulate and tax cannabis sales in the District. The hearing was the D.C. Council’s first official hearing on a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis sales.
MPP Legislative Analyst Olivia Naugle testifying at the D.C. Council hearing.
In November 2014, D.C. voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 71, which legalized the possession and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 and older, but due to the fact that D.C. cannot control its own budget, Congress has been able to block the District from taxing and regulating marijuana sales via the "Harris rider."
However, the Senate Appropriations Committee has omitted the Harris rider in its appropriations legislation this year. The House appropriations legislation approved over the summer also did not include the provision. The fact that it’s not in either version of the bill greatly increases the chances that the District of Columbia will be able to allow cannabis commerce by the end of this year if Congress completes the appropriations process.
The Comprehensive Legalization and Regulation Act of 2021 would establish a regulatory scheme for the licensing, production, and retail sale of adult-use cannabis in the District, allow for automatic expungement of D.C. code cannabis related arrests and convictions, and establish a social equity program to provide opportunities in the legal industry from communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition. You can check out our summary of the bill here.
Medical cannabis patient, caregiver fees waived through January 31, 2022
On November 5, 2021, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed emergency legislation that would allow medical cannabis patients whose cards expired since March 2020 to continue using them to purchase medical marijuana through the end of January 2022. It also creates a new two-year medical marijuana card (instead of the current one-year card) and increases the amount of marijuana a patient can buy at a time from four to eight ounces. The emergency legislation is set to expire on February 3, 2022.
In addition, on November 10, 2021 the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board unanimously approved waiving registration fees for medical cannabis patients and caregivers through January 31, 2022.
More information on D.C’s medical cannabis program can be found here, and you can find a list of licensed dispensaries in D.C. here.
D.C now accepts medical cannabis cards from most medical cannabis jurisdictions
Non-resident patients must present their digital or physical government-issued medical cannabis registration. You can find a full list of U.S. jurisdictions that reciprocity has been extended to here.
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