Marijuana is legal for adults (no sales); medical marijuana law
Last update: January 21, 2023
D.C. Council sends bill to expand D.C’s medical cannabis program to Mayor Bowser’s desk
On December 20, 2022, the Washington, D.C. Council unanimously passed a bill that would significantly expand the District’s medical cannabis program. The Medical Cannabis Amendment Act of 2022 would eliminate cannabis business licensing caps, provide tax relief to operators, further promote social equity, and create new regulated business categories such as on-site consumption facilities.
Additionally, the legislation would make provisions permanent allowing people 21 and older to self-certify as medical cannabis patients. This allows them to buy cannabis from dispensaries without receiving a doctor’s recommendation
The bill will now head to Mayor Bowser’s (D) desk for her signature.
Adults 21 and older can now self-certify as medical cannabis patients
In October 2022, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) signed a bill allowing non-DC residents to self-certify as medical cannabis patients while they visit D.C. — without a doctor’s recommendation. There requirement that an individual have a specific medical condition — they just certify the cannabis is for their medical use. D.C. residents were already able to self-certify under a law that took effect over the summer.
Non-D.C. residents may purchase medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary in D.C. by applying for a 30-day temporary registration or by presenting their patient registration from a U.S. state or territory that extends reciprocity. The fee for each temporary registration is $30. Non-D.C. Resident Medical Cannabis Patient Registrations are valid for 30 days from the date an application is submitted. Temporary registrations automatically expire after 30 days.
For D.C. residents to register as medical cannabis patients and obtain a card, they will need to apply — with their SSN, a current 2”x2” face photo, and a D.C. DMV REAL ID or proof of residency and government-issued photo ID. Applications can be submitted in person, online, or by mail. Registrations are valid for two years from the date of issuance.
Information on D.C.’s medical cannabis program, including how to apply to register as a patient, can be found here.
Rider blocking D.C. from regulating cannabis sales remains in 2022 federal budget
Due to the fact that D.C. cannot control its own budget, Congress has been able to block the District from taxing and regulating cannabis sales via the "Harris rider," which is attached to federal funding legislation. Unfortunately, the rider was once again included in the 2022 federal budget.
The D.C. Council signaled they were preparing to establish a regulated adult-use cannabis market once Congress allows it. A public hearing was held on November 19, 2021 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. You can check out our summary of the bill here.
MPP Legislative Analyst Olivia Naugle testifying at the November 2021 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. However, as long as congressional interference continues, adult-use consumers are left with no access to regulated, tested cannabis.
Allow senior citizens over age 65 to self-certify their own eligibility for medical cannabis without having to get a recommendation from a doctor until September 30, 2022. The self-certification form is available online here.
Allow patients whose registrations expired on or after March 1, 2020 to purchase medical cannabis until September 30, 2022.
Create a “4/20 Medical Cannabis Sales Tax Holiday Week.” From April 15 through April 24, 2022, patients will not have to pay the six percent sales tax on medical cannabis.
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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Mayor Muriel Bowser has signed the "Medical Marijuana Patient Access Extension Emergency Amendment Act of 2022" into law! The emergency legislation lowers barriers to the District’s medical cannabis program.