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 requires DOH to license independent laboratories for product testing, removed drug conviction restrictions on individuals allowed to work in dispensaries and cultivation centers and requires the DOH to create a District-wide tracking system that will then allow patients to visit any dispensary and will allow reciprocity to patients registered in other states. The District-wide tracking system went into effect on April 6, 2018. DC medical cannabis patients and patients from other states with functionally equivalent medical cannabis programs may now access any of the five dispensaries serving patients in DC. 

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.

Becoming a Caregiver, Producer or Provider in the District of Columbia

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.