Washington, D.C. lawmakers on Friday, October 21st, approved a bill that would significantly reshape the District’s medical cannabis program in several key ways—including by eliminating licensing caps for medical marijuana businesses, promoting social equity in the industry, and creating new regulated business categories such as on-site consumption facilities and cannabis cooking classes.
The legislation that’s being carried by D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) on behalf of Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) also contains provisions to empower officials to crack down on “gifting” operators that sell non-cannabis items in exchange for “free” marijuana products. The aim is to encourage those businesses to become part of the legal and regulated market by taking advantage of the new licensing opportunities. The bill would additionally permanently codify a current temporary law allowing adults to self-certify as cannabis patients.
The Medical Cannabis Amendment Act cleared the Judiciary & Public Safety Committee unanimously with amendments. Its next stop will be the Business and Economic Development Committee before potentially going before the full Council.
While the measure as introduced would have expanded the number of dispensaries by a certain number and removed other licensing restrictions, the committee revision instead eliminates the caps altogether, leaving it up to the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to make that decision. Regulators would be required to submit an analysis to justify additional business license approvals.
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