District of Columbia 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 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 passed B18-0622: Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 2010 as a replacement for I-59. Registered patients can possess up to four ounces of usable cannabis or its equivalent in other forms (ie. edibles, tinctures, topicals, etc.). Registered cultivation centers supply medical cannabis dispensaries. Patients whose income is less than 200% of the federal poverty level are entitled to purchase medicine at a reduced rate.

In July 2014, the DC Council passed emergency legislation to lift the physician restrictions on determining qualifying conditions and to increase cultivation center plant limit from 95 to 500 plants. In 2015, they increased the plant limit to 1,000 plants.

In November 2016, the D.C. Council passed a bill, B21-210, that required DC Health to license independent laboratories for product testing, removed drug conviction restrictions on individuals permitted to work in dispensaries and cultivation centers, and required the DC Health to create a District-wide tracking system that would allow resident patients to visit any dispensary in DC and facilitate dispensary access by non-resident patients from states with medical cannabis programs that were functionally equivalent to DC's program. The District-wide tracking system went into effect on April 6, 2018. On April 8, 2019, Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Health announced the intention to extend reciprocity to non-resident medical cannabis patients from all states that issue medical cannabis cards or other state-issued documents as evidence of enrollment. As of September 10, 2019, non-resident patients from 27 states may access DC's dispensaries; Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and West Virginia are still under review.

In This Section

District of Columbia Medical Cannabis Laws & Regulations

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.

Becoming a Patient in the District of Columbia

Patients are allowed to designate one person to be their “designated caregiver” to assist them with their medical cannabis therapy.

Recommending Cannabis 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.