Mayor Bowser announces plan to tax and regulate D.C. marijuana sales in 2019


Last update: November 28, 2018


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.

Due to the fact that D.C. cannot control its own budget, Congress has been able to block the District from taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana. The lack of any lawful place to purchase non-medical cannabis has led to a proliferation of “grey market” operators and a significant increase in arrests for the distribution of marijuana, which have returned to pre-legalization levels. It also means D.C. is losing out on millions of dollars in tax revenue and hundreds of good jobs. But, with its change in leadership, Congress may finally allow D.C to set its own marijuana policy. 

Shortly after the 2018 midterm election, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced that she will submit a full marijuana legalization bill to the District of Columbia Council in early 2019. If you live in D.C., urge your councilmembers to support taxing and regulating marijuana sales for adults 21 and older.

D.C. Council considers more improvements to medical marijuana program 


In 2016 and 2017, D.C. made important improvements to its medical marijuana program, and more improvements have been proposed. In 2017, Councilmember David Grosso (I, at large) sponsored a bill that would allow anyone 21 and over to access cannabis from dispensaries if they provide a signed affidavit that they are using marijuana for medical purposes. The bill would also give patients a safe, lawful place to consume cannabis outside their homes. But, the bill has been stuck in committee. Click here to urge your councilmembers to increase public safety and improve public health by allowing greater access to dispensaries.

In addition, a 2016 bill, B21-0210, provided that once implementing regulations and a District-wide electronic tracking system for patients’ purchases were put into place, patients who are registered with other states’ medical marijuana programs would be able to shop at D.C.’s dispensaries. Currently, the D.C Department of Health has authorized certified patients from some states to make purchases at D.C. dispensaries, but not all. Patient certifications are accepted from the following states: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington.

Other recent improvements include requiring independent laboratory testing of medical marijuana; allowing other medical professionals, in addition to M.D.s, to recommend cannabis; and increasing the amount of medical cannabis a patient can purchase over a 30-day period from two ounces to four. In addition, a misdemeanor drug conviction or a conviction for possession with intent to distribute marijuana will no longer be a bar to participation in the medical marijuana industry, and minority-owned businesses will have an advantage in the licensing process for new dispensaries.

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