D.C. Council eases medical marijuana regulations for residents over 21

D.C. residents over the age of 21 will be able to “self-certify” their need for medical marijuana without first receiving a doctor’s recommendation due to a new bill unanimously approved by the D.C. Council on Tuesday.

The emergency bill – introduced by Councilmembers Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) and GW law professor Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) – is an attempt to promote support for legal medical marijuana dispensaries and discourage users from shopping at unregulated “gifting shops” which gift marijuana with the purchase of other merchandise, also known as the “gray market.” D.C. officials hope the new proposal will also aid delays in patients receiving medical maijuana due to a lack of doctors to provide recommendations. 

D.C. residents will certify their need for medical marijuana while registering for a patient card which will provide access to the District’s medical marijuana dispensaries. Officials passed a similar bill in February allowing patients over the age of 65 to self-certify their need for medical marijuana.

In the bill’s declaration, McDuffie and Cheh said the requirement of a doctor’s recommendation for a patient to receive medical marijuana creates “barriers” for underinsured, lower-class residents who may not have time or finances to obtain a practitioner’s certification.

“This has had real consequences for legal medical dispensaries,” McDuffie and Cheh said in the proposal’s statement. “Because gray market shops do not require customers to provide an authorized practitioner’s recommendation, many medical marijuana patients choose to shop at these illegal gifting stores.” 

The D.C. Council has sent the bill to Mayor Muriel Bowser for her signature. Mayor Bowser said she supports the legislation in a letter to the council on Tuesday.

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