(Washington, DC) – This afternoon, at the WeDC Futures Forum, Mayor Bowser announced that she is introducing new rulemaking to extend the registration period for medical marijuana patients and caregivers from one year to two years, thus, requiring qualifying patients and caregivers to renew their registration biennially instead of annually. The rulemaking will enable medical marijuana patients who are suffering from serious and debilitating illnesses to overcome barriers affecting accessibility to legal medical marijuana in the District.
“Once again, this is about reducing barriers to access and making our medical marijuana program fairer and more equitable,” said Mayor Bowser. “We cannot let financial barriers hinder access to a medical program that our residents rely on for their health and well-being. Through this simple change, we can protect residents by keeping them in the medical marijuana program and out of the illegal market, and continue to build a safer, stronger, and healthier DC.”
Residents have asserted that they are either not entering the medical marijuana program or are electing not to renew their registration because of the cost of the annual renewal fee, the time consuming process, and associated costs with returning to a physician each year. Additionally, community representatives have asserted that as a result of the annual renewal fees and process, patients are turning to the illegal market to meet their medical needs for marijuana, which is a major safety concern.
This is the latest in a series of reforms Mayor Bowser has made to make the District’s medical marijuana program more patient-centric. In September 2019, the Mayor announced emergency rulemaking to allow District residents who wish to enroll in DC’s Medical Marijuana Program to use a REAL ID driver’s license issued by the DC Department of Motor Vehicles as proof of residency, in lieu of two other forms of acceptable identification. In August, the Mayor announced an expansion of the scope of its reciprocity rules for medical marijuana to all states that issue medical marijuana cards or other state documents, expanding the number of states whose medical cards the District recognizes from 19 to at least 27 states.
In addition to enhancing the medical marijuana program, Mayor Bowser also proposed the Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2019 – legislation allowing for the sale of recreational cannabis in Washington, DC. The legislation will enhance public health and safety, provide clarity on the use of cannabis and cannabis products, and advance equity by ensuring that the benefits of a cannabis regime go to DC’s most vulnerable communities through jobs and investments in housing. Learn more about the Safe Cannabis Act of 2019 HERE.