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Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Administration

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Medical Cannabis License Protests

What can be protested?

Certain applications for medical cannabis business licenses can be protested, including applications for a:

  • New license
  • License renewal
  • Transfer of a license to a new location

Who can file a protest?

  • An Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) of the establishment or the proposed location.
  • Any ANC located within 600 feet of the establishment or proposed location.

How do I file a protest?

ANC’s protesting an application should undertake the following:

  • File a protest letter prior to the petition deadline stated on the Notice of Public Hearing (placard notice).
  • Provide information in the letter about the establishment you are protesting, including the trade name and address.
  • Include at least one appropriateness standard:
    • The effect of the establishment on real property values;
    • The effect of the establishment on peace, order, and quiet, including the noise and litter provisions; and
    • The effect of the establishment upon residential parking needs and vehicular and pedestrian safety
  • Designate a representative in the letter who will represent the ANC.

Protest petitions may be submitted by email, mail, or in person to ABCA's office:

  • Email
  • 2000 14th Street, NW, 4th Floor, Suite 400 South, Washington, DC 20009

Failure to follow any of the petition procedures may result in the dismissal of the protest.


ABCA provides mediation services to all parties of a protest. In lieu of a hearing, all cases may be resolved by the mutual agreement of the parties to enter into a settlement agreement approved by the ABC Board, which may govern the operations of the establishment.


There may be a variety of hearings associated with the protest process, including:

  • Roll Call Hearings - Proceeding where the Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Board's (ABC Board) agent introduces the parties (protestant(s) and applicant) and states the grounds for the protest.
  • Status Hearing - Proceeding held by the ABC Board where the parties inform the ABC Board of their progress in reaching a settlement agreement.
  • Protest Hearing - Adjudicatory proceeding where the ABC Board receives evidence and testimony on the appropriateness of the licensing action.

Hearing Requirements

  • Attend all hearings and mediations on time. If you are unable to attend a scheduled hearing, remember to contact ABCA to request a continuance.
  • File a Protest Information and Exhibit Form (PIF) at least seven (7) calendar days prior to a protest hearing. Please ensure that your list of witnesses contains their email addresses.
    • The PIF is not a protest letter and shall not be submitted in lieu of a protest letter. It is completed after the protest letter is filed and the parties are granted standing.
  • Present your case within one and a half hours at the protest hearing.
    • Only discuss the appropriateness standards that remain unresolved after mediation.
    • Minimize repetitive or irrelevant testimony from witnesses.
    • Budget your time. Any cross-examination of an applicant’s witnesses is counted against your allotted hour and a half.

Relevant Law

Medical cannabis is governed by Title 7 of the D.C. Official Code and Title 22-C of the D.C. Municipal Regulations. The medical cannabis statutes and regulations are not deemed controlling authority; however, legal interpretations of similar provisions and case decisions related to medical cannabis applications may be cited as persuasive authority that the ABC Board may follow but is not required to follow.


Any paperwork related to the protest, such as a motion, PIF, etc., needs to be filed with ABCA's General Counsel. Filings also need to be provided to all parties of the protest.

  • Serve filings (motions, PIFs, etc.) to all parties, including ABCA’s General Counsel Division.
  • Ensure all filings are signed and include original signatures.
  • File responses to party motions within seven calendar days.

Filings may be submitted by email, mail or in person to ABCA's office:

  • Email
  • 2000 14th Street, NW, 4th Floor, Suite 400 South, Washington, DC 20009