Medical Cannabis Law Now in Effect Expands Patient Access and Creates Business Opportunities
(March 31, 2023) - A District law is now in effect that overhaul’s DC’s medical cannabis program by allowing more patients to self-certify and expanding facilities. The Medical Cannabis Amendment Act of 2022 became law on Wednesday, March 22. Nearly 29,000 DC residents and thousands of non-residents are currently patients in the program.
The Act had been signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser in January 2023 and became law after the Congressional review period ended. It significantly creates business opportunities by eliminating facility caps, introducing new license categories and permissions such as a safe-use treatment facility where qualifying patients can consume medical cannabis on-site at the licensed facility. It also expands patient access by permitting District residents who are at least 21 years of age to self-certify and adds an annual sales tax holiday to the calendar between April 15-24 where the District’s 6% sales tax on medical cannabis is waived.
Another key provision seeks to ensure that individuals disproportionately harmed by cannabis criminalization are included in the medical cannabis industry at all levels. For example, the law requires that social equity applicants are issued at least 50% of all new licenses and 75% of their application and licensing fees are waived for the first three years.
The Act also provides for increased public safety and community engagement processes, including new medical cannabis packaging and labeling requirements, a pathway for unlicensed operators to become licensed, and extending great weight to input provided by Advisory Neighborhood Commissions on facility locations.
Finally, the Act renames the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to reflect their portfolio, which was expanded in October 2020 to include the medical cannabis program. The new names--the Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Administration (ABCA) and the Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Board--will be rolled out as part of a rebranding campaign in the coming weeks.
“We look forward to further growing and innovating DC’s medical cannabis program to ensure DC patients and visiting patients alike are able to access therapeutic medicine readily and safely,” said ABCA Director Fred Moosally. “The Act’s creation of additional business opportunities will also serve to benefit patients in wards or neighborhoods currently without a medical cannabis retailer by providing more convenient locations in the District where they can obtain medical cannabis and medical cannabis products.”
ABCA will be publishing an open application period timeline and information session schedule based on the law in the coming days at abca.dc.gov.
Leslie Malone, Public Affairs Specialist
Licensing Division, Medical Cannabis Program