Washington, DC: Mayor Muriel Bowser has signed legislation removing the requirement that adults seeking to purchase cannabis products from licensed DC medical cannabis dispensaries must obtain a recommendation from a licensed physician. Members of the DC City Council had previously voted unanimously in favor of legislation, known as the Medical Marijuana Self-Certification Emergency Amendment Act of 2022.
The measure permits individuals age 21 or older to “self-certify … that they are utilizing cannabis for medical purposes” when they register with local regulators for a medical cannabis identification card. Once registered, self-certified adults may access any of the District’s seven licensed medical cannabis dispensaries.
Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Kenyan McDuffie, who sponsored the measured, said that the legislation is needed to dissuade residents from patronizing the unregulated marketplace. “Due to the lower barriers to access in the gray market, a significant number of medical marijuana patients have shifted from purchasing their medical marijuana from legal medical dispensaries to the illicit gray market, creating a significant risk to the long-term viability of the District’s legal medical marijuana industry,” they said. “If this trend continues, it is possible that gray market sales could wipe out the District’s legal marijuana dispensaries. Given the… benefits that regulated and safe legal dispensaries provide to medical marijuana users in the District, it is vital that the industry survive until the District can stand up a regulated recreational market and transition toward full regulation of recreational marijuana products.”
Under District law, adults may possess and home-cultivate limited amounts of cannabis for their own personal use. However, Congressional action has prohibited the City Council from passing municipal legislation to provide adults with retail cannabis access.
Because the self-certification bill was enacted as “emergency legislation,” it is not subject to Congressional review.
In June, DC Councilmembers passed separate legislation, the Cannabis Employment Protections Amendment Act of 2022, protecting those who use cannabis from facing discrimination in the workplace. That bill currently awaits action by the mayor.
Additional information on pending legislation is available from NORML’s ‘Take Action Center.’