Marijuana is legal for adults (no sales); medical marijuana law
Last update: October 16, 2023
Mayor Bowser signs bill to expand D.C.’s medical cannabis program
On January 31, 2023, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) signed legislation into law that significantly expands the District’s medical cannabis program. The Medical Cannabis Amendment Act of 2022 eliminates cannabis business licensing caps, provides tax relief to operators, further promotes social equity, and creates new regulated business categories such as on-site consumption facilities.
Additionally, the legislation makes provisions permanent allowing D.C. residents 21 and older to self-certify as medical cannabis patients. This allows them to buy cannabis from dispensaries without receiving a doctor’s recommendation. There is no requirement that patients have a listed qualifying condition — any medical use qualifies.
Information on D.C.’s medical cannabis program, including how to apply to register as a patient, can be found here. And you can find a list of licensed dispensaries in D.C. here.
Congress maintains rider blocking D.C. from regulating cannabis sales
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 has signaled for years that 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 Senior Policy 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.
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.