On Tuesday, the Washington DC Council unanimously passed an emergency bill that removes the requirement to obtain a doctor’s recommendation in order to purchase medical cannabis.
Residents over the age of 21 will now be able to “self-certify” that they need cannabis for medical purposes when registering for a patient card. This card will allow them to access one of the seven medical cannabis dispensaries in the city.
Earlier this year, the District Council passed a similar bill allowing residents over the age of 65 to self-certify that they need cannabis for medical purposes.
Facilitating access to medical cannabis
The bill aims to make medical cannabis easier to access for potential patients, some of whom may face difficulty finding a doctor who will provide a cannabis referral – 620 are registered with the city to do so, on thousands in DC — or may not have the time, insurance coverage, or money for a visit to a doctor.
The measure is also intended to support the city’s medical cannabis dispensaries which are facing increasing competition from shops and “donation” services. Since recreational cannabis is not yet legal in DC, some businesses are taking advantage of the legality of “cannabis donation” to sell t-shirts or juice, along with a certain amount of “free” weed, often cheaper than in the dispensary.
“Due to the low barriers to accessing the gray market, a significant number of patients who use cannabis for medical purposes have switched from purchasing this substance from legal medical dispensaries to the illicit gray market, which creates a risk important to the long-term viability of the legal medical cannabis industry in the district,” reads a statement from Kenyan McDuffie and Mary Cheh, the two councilors spearheading the project.
“If this trend continues, it is possible that gray market sales could wipe out legal cannabis dispensaries in the district. Given the…benefits that legal, regulated and safe dispensaries provide medical cannabis users in the District, it is vital that the industry survive until the District can establish a regulated recreational market and transition to comprehensive regulation of adult cannabis products. »
The bill will be submitted for the signature of Mayor Muriel Bowser who has already declared support for the text.