Becoming a Patient in the District of Columbia

Medical cannabis (marijuana) was approved by the voters of the District of Columbia in 1998 with Initiative 59; however, Congress prevented the law from being implemented through an amendment tacked on each year to the D.C. Budget. When the prohibition was finally lifted in late 2009, the D.C Council began to draft a new bill to replace Initiative 59. In addition to the law approved by the D.C. Council in 2010 (B18-0622), the District’s medical marijuana program is also governed by title 22, subtitle C of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations.  Patients and caregivers in D.C. must register to a specific dispensary and may only purchase medical cannabis products (including paraphernalia) from that dispensary.  Those who wish to switch dispensary membership must submit paperwork and a fee to the D.C. Department of Health (DOH). Patients who’s income is less than 200% of the federal poverty level are eligible for reduced fees and medicine prices.

What’s Allowed

The law and rules allow registered patients and caregivers to possess up two (2) ounces of dried medical cannabis or other forms (ie. edibles, tinctures, topicals, etc.).  In addition, personal cultivation of up to six marijuana plants, with no more than three being mature, by adults 21 and older in their personal residences.  In order to become registered, a patient must receive a recommendation from physician who is licensed to practice medicine in the District.

Patients must be in possession of their registration card issued by DOH in order to be legally protected. The maximum possession amount by a patient is two (2) ounces. Reciprocity does not exist for visiting patients who are not District residents and registered in the D.C. program.

Patients may possess up to two (2) ounces of medicine oanother form, such as edibles, topicals and tinctures. Additionally, a patient may only purchase a maximum of two (2) ounces of medicine in any 30-day period. The total weight of the product is included in the current application of the 2-ounce rule. Therefore, patients should be aware that that if they consume 2 grams of medicine per day, they will run out medicine before the 30-day period. Patients who purchase the statutory maximum will purchase 56 grams of medicine, therefore consuming 2 grams of medicine per day would run out on day 28 of the 30-day period.

Eligible Conditions

HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, cancer, or any other condition that is chronic or long-lasting or is debilitating or interferes with the basic functions of life and is a serious medical condition for which the use of medical marijuana is beneficial.  The condition cannot be effectively treated by any ordinary medical or surgical measure, or there is scientific evidence that the use of medical marijuana is likely to be significantly less addictive than the ordinary medical treatment for that condition.

Access

When filling out the application form, a patient must select which of one of the District's medical marijuana dispensaries the patient wishes to register to. Patients who wish to switch to another dispensary must fill out a new application form and pay a new application fee.

There are currently five (5) medical marijuana dispensaries in the District of Columbia. Patients must select choose one (and only one) of the following when filling out their application form:

National Holistic Healing Center
1718 Connecticut Ave NW, Level T
Washington, D.C. 20009

Herbal Alternatives
1710 Rhode Island Avenue, NW. 3rd Floor.
Washington, D.C. 20036

Capital City Care
1334 N. Capitol Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20002

Metropolitan Wellness Center
409 8th Street SE, Suite 201,
Washington, D.C. 20003

Takoma Wellness Center
6925 Blair Road NW
Washington, D.C. 20012

Consumption

Don't be dangerous (i.e., don't drive under the influence).  That is still illegal.  Also, don't use cannabis within 1000 feet of a school, rec center, or youth center.  Despite Initiative 71’s more relaxed requirements, businesses still have the right to set their own rules for medical marijuana consumption.

Paraphernalia

Initiative 71 states that use or sales of paraphernalia for marijuana use, cultivation, or processing is also now legal.

Caregiver

A caregiver must be at least 18 years-old, not have a conviction for possession or selling of a controlled substance, and may only serve one qualifying patient at any given time. Caregivers must be in possession of their DOH-issued registration card in order to receive legal protections when handling or transporting their patient’s medicine.

Application Process

Once a patient has a completed recommendation form from their physician, they must submit it along with a registration application to DOH. Patient can download application forms from the DOH website at (http://doh.dc.gov/service/medical-marijuana-program). Patients may fill out Patients who do not have access to the internet can pick up forms from DOH at (899 N. Capitol Street, NE 2nd Floor) or may visit their local D.C. Public Library. The application fee is $100 for both each patient and caregiver.

Patients who whose income is equal to or less than two hundred percent (200%) of the federal poverty level pay a reduced fee application fee of $25 for patient and caregiver. Instructions on how to demonstrate eligibility for the reduce rate is on page 3 of the patient application form.

Included with the patient application form, patients must submit two (2) recent passport-type photographs and a clear copy of U.S., state, or District government-issued photo ID as proof of identity. Additionally, D.C. patient applicants must include proof of District residency (ie. lease/rental agreement, utility bill, etc.), which is explained in detail on page 9 of the application form.

There is no restriction on minors being medical cannabis patients in the District of Columbia. However, the parent or legal guardian of a minor in need of medical cannabis therapy must grant informed consent and agree to serve as the minor patient’s caregiver (or designate another adult over 18 years of age to be their child's caregiver). Minor patients are not allowed to administer their own medicine. Emancipated minors do not need a parent or guardian to grant consent or agree to be their caregiver. Parents or guardians of minor patients should use the Minor Patient Application Form on the DOH Medical Marijuana website.

Doctor

Only residents of the District of Columbia are eligible to become qualifying patients. To become a legally registered patient, a patient must first obtain a recommendation from a physician who is licensed to practice medicine in the District of Columbia. If a patient's physician thinks that medical cannabis therapy is appropriate to treat the patient's medical condition, the physician can recommend using the D.C. Dept. of Health online recommendation process

Under the Medical Marijuana Expansion Amendment Emergency Act of 2014, physician may recommend marijuana for any condition a patient might have that the physician feels the use of marijuana would provide benefit. There is no longer a restricted listed of qualifying conditions imposed on physicians and patients in the District of Columbia.

Confidentiality

Your medical information is confidential and protected under HIPPA. The medical cannabis ID cards do not show your name, address, or other sensitive information, though they do have a photo. Police and government agents can verify the legitimacy of the card.

Housing

Employers are not required to accommodate on-the-job consumption of medical cannabis. Patient status outside of work is not protected either

Employment

Employers are not required to accommodate on-the-job consumption of medical cannabis. Patient status outside of work is not protected either.

Insurance

Health insurance providers are not mandated to cover medical cannabis expenses.

Reciprocity

Arizona, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Michigan should recognize your medical cannabis card issued by government entities.