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 whose 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 to four (4) ounces of dried medical cannabis or other forms (e.g., edibles, tinctures, topicals, etc.). In addition, Initiative 71 legalized the 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 four (4) ounces. Reciprocity exists for visiting patients with medical cannabis registry cards issued by a U.S. state.

A patient may purchase a maximum of four (4) ounces of medicine in any 30-day period.

Eligible Conditions

Qualifying medical or dental condition: Any condition for which treatment with medical marijuana would be beneficial, as determined by the patient's authorized practitioner.

Qualifying medical or dental treatment: (a) chemotherapy; (b) the use of azidothymidine or protease inhibitors; (c) radiotherapy; or (d) any other treatment, as determined by rulemaking, whose side effects require treatment through the administration of medical marijuana in the same manner as a qualifying medical or dental condition.

Access

Registered patients may visit any medical cannabis dispensary in the city.

There are currently seven (7) medical marijuana dispensaries in the District of Columbia:

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
1115 U Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

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

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

Anacostia Organics
2022 Martin Luther King Jr Avenue SE
Washington, D.C. 20020

Cannabliss
4721 Sheriff Road NE
Washington, D.C. 20019

Consumption

Public consumption of cannabis remains illegal.

Paraphernalia

Initiative 71 legalized the sale and use of paraphernalia for marijuana use, cultivation, and processing.

Caregiver

A caregiver must be at least 18 years old, may 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

Authorized health care providers submit patient recommendations to the Department of Health. Once a patient has been issued a recommendation, they must submit a registration application to the DOH. Registration applications may be submitted electronically or in hard copy format; the forms are available at DC's Health Department website. The application fee is $100. Patients 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. Instructions on how to demonstrate eligibility for the reduced rate are included in the application and are available at the program's proof of income resource.

In addition to the application form, patients must upload a recent passport-type photograph, a clear copy of U.S., state, or District government-issued photo ID as proof of identity, and proof of District residency (e.g., lease/rental agreement, utility bill, etc.). (Patients who submit a hard copy of their application must submit two (2) passport-style photographs.) As of September 12, 2019, a REAL ID driver's license issued by the DC Department of Motor Vehicles can be used in lieu of two other forms of acceptable identification to prove District residency. 

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.

Health Care Provider

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 (MD, DO), Advance Practice Registered Nurse / Nurse Practitioner (APRN / NP), Dentist, Physician Assistant, or Naturopathic Physician who is licensed to practice medicine in the District of Columbia.

Confidentiality

Your medical information is confidential and protected under HIPPA. Police and government agents can verify the legitimacy of the card by contacting the Department of Health.

Housing

The use of medical cannabis remains illegal in federally subsidized housing in the District of Columbia.

Employment

Private employers are not required to accommodate on-the-job consumption of medical cannabis and are not prohibited from terminating employees for the use of cannabis outside of work. Public employees have greater protection: the Government of the District of Columbia "may not refuse to hire, terminate from employment, penalize, fail to promote, or otherwise take adverse employment action against an individual based upon the individual's status as a qualifying patient unless the individual used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana at the individual's place of employment or during the hours of employment."

Insurance

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

Reciprocity

For information on reciprocity, please refer to The Medical Cannabis Patient's Guide for U.S. Travel.