District of Columbia Legal Information Washington DC Legal Information
The voters of Washington, D.C. first approved medical cannabis in 1998 with the passage of Initiative 59 (I-59), but the law was blocked by Congressional action under its constitutional authority over the laws of the District. Congress blocked I-59 from being adopted into law through a budget rider that was attached to the District's budget every year until December 2009. Once Congress dropped its opposition, the D.C. Council in January 2010 introduced B18-0622: Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 2010 as a replacement for I-59, which was non-binding. The final version of B18-0622, which went into effect on July 27, 2010 and is substantially different than I-59, created a "closed system" in which medical cannabis is tracked from cultivation to sales. Registered patients are allowed to possess up to two ounces of usable cannabis or its equivalent in other forms (ie. edibles, tinctures, topicals, etc.). I-59 allowed personal cultivation but the current law does not. Registered cultivation centers supply medical cannabis dispensaries from which patients and their caregivers may purchase no more than two (2) ounces of cannabis in a 30-day period. Patients whose income is less than 200% of the federal poverty level are entitled to purchase medicine at a reduced rate.
Many changes to the program were made in 2014. The Department of Health began having public meetings of the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, and issued regulations adding several new qualifying conditions in May 2014. In July 2014, the DC Council passed emergency legislation to lift the physician restrictions on determining qualifying conditions and to increase cultivation center plan limit from 95 to 500 plants. The District has since enacted legislation to increase the plant limit to 1,000 plants.
In This Section
View and print the District of Columbia MMJ Report Card from our latest report: Medical Marijuana Access in the U.S. A Patient-Focused Analysis of the Patchwork of State Laws.
The voters of Washington, D.C. first approved medical cannabis in 1998 with the passage of Initiative 59 (I-59), which received 69% of the vote and earned majority support in every voting precinct in the District.
How to become a registered medical cannabis (marijuana) patient or designated caregiver in the District of Columbia.
Medical professionals recommending medical cannabis must be a licensed physician in good standing to practice medicine or osteopathy in the District of Columbia. A physician may recommend the use of medical marijuana to a qualifying patient if the physician is in a bona fide physician-patient relationship with the qualifying patient, has completed a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, including an in-person physical examination, performed not more than ninety (90) days prior to making the recommendation, and has resumed the responsibility for the ongoing care and treatment of the patient.
Every state has varying laws and regulations for caregivers, cultivators and medical cannabis providers. This section includes an overview of state requirements and links to necessary forms and applications.