You are here
Home > News > Washington, D.C. Mayor Signs Medical Pot Bill

Washington, D.C. Mayor Signs Medical Pot Bill

In February 2021, Chairman Phil Mendelson of Washington, D.C. Council sponsored the recently passed bill, the Medical Cannabis Amendment Act of 2022. (B24-0113). After the unanimous vote of Washington, D.C. Council to approve, Bowser signed the bill Jan. 30, only two days before an official response was required on Feb. 1.

The bill expands the capital’s medical cannabis program in many ways, including lifting the cap on dispensaries, creating new license types, and codifies emergency measures passed in 2021 and 2022.

The original amendment called for an increase in dispensaries. However, it was changed to not include a maximum number.

The legislation also allows for the creation of additional cannabis licenses, such as online sales and delivery, education programs, and other areas that are dedicated to cannabis consumption. “At least half” of all licenses given to currently unlicensed businesses will be given to social equity applicants (defined as those who are D.C. residents with low income, have spent time in prison for cannabis-related charges, or are related to someone who was affected by the War on Drugs).

In Washington D.C., medical cannabis was made legal in 2010. Initiative 71 was adopted by the voters to allow adult-use marijuana. The law allows the possession of two ounces and home cultivation of marijuana. But, adult can also gift up to an ounce of cannabis to another adult. Initiative 71, a loophole for gifting, allows people to sell merchandise or clothes with cannabis as a free gift. The Medical Cannabis Amendment Act of 2022 aims to provide legal licensing for unlicensed cannabis businesses.

This act codifies all emergency cannabis measures. It includes an emergency measure to provide support for Washington, D.C. citizens with expired ID cards, as well as help dispensaries in trouble, which was adopted in November 2021. Bowser approved a bill that allowed adults to self-certify as cannabis patients in July 2022.

Overall, enforcement action related to these changes won’t be implemented until 315 days have passed since the signing of the bill, which would be later this year in December. The bill also requires congressional approval before it is officially taken effect.

Mendelson, the Second Chance Amendment Act (2021) (B24-0163), was also recently under review by the Congress. This would implement automatic expungement through “automatic sealing for non-dangerous, non-convictions as well as shorten the waiting periods before a person is eligible to seal their record. It would also expand the eligibility of who can seal their record.” All expungements would need to be processed before Jan. 1, 2025. If congress doesn’t make a move against the bill, its projected law date is set for March 16, 2023.

Mendelson has also introduced a bill, B25-0052 on January 19, that aims to legalize adult use cannabis. The proposal includes a “Reparations for Victims of the War on Cannabis Fund,” which would offer anywhere between $5,000 to $80,000 to pay those who were negatively affected by cannabis criminalization. It also includes a “Cannabis Equity and Opportunity Fund,” which would gather up 40% of revenue to go toward loans or grants for applicants affected by criminalization. In addition, the bill provides details on a plan for reinvesting cannabis tax revenues into community services like youth development or mental health treatments.