Washington D.C. Committee Votes To Eliminate Medical Marijuana Licenses Caps And Promote Industry Social Equity
Washington, D.C. lawmakers on Friday approved a measure which will fundamentally alter the medical marijuana program
in the District through a variety of key aspects, such as eliminating the licensing limits for medical marijuana companies and promoting social equity for all in the field and establishing new categories of business that are regulated like marijuana consumption facilities on site and cooking classes.
The bill that’s being pushed in the name of D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) on behalf of Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) also includes the power to allow officials to slap down on “gifting” businesses that offer non-cannabis products to get “free” cannabis products. The goal is to push these businesses to be part of the legal and controlled market, by taking advantage of the opportunities for licensing.
Temporary Provisions Becoming Permanent
The bill would also permanently codify the current temporary law that allows adults to self-certify as cannabis users.
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The Medical Cannabis Amendment Act cleared the Judiciary & Public Safety Committee without a vote, with amendments made on Friday. Its next stop is in the Business and Economic Development Committee and then possibly go before members of the entire Council.
Although this measure in its original form would have increased the dispensary count up to an amount of time and also removed other restrictions on licensing however, the revision by the committee removes all caps which leaves it up for the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to decide on the matter.
Regulators will be required to present an analysis to support any additional business license approvals.In addition, the legislation states that individuals aged 21 and over can self-certify themselves as medical cannabis patients and purchase marijuana at dispensaries without the need for a doctor’s approval.
A report on the bill says that this is needed due to the “prohibitive” cost of getting a recommendation, and also because finding a doctor who can sign the form “can be a hassle.”
“These obstacles and barriers provide the reason why the medical marijuana Program
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in District is untapped,” it says. At this point, medical marijuana patient registrations have grown significantly following the time the city’s mayor approved temporary emergency self-certification legislation during the summer.
Getting Around the Harris Rider
In their report they think that the bill “does not violate the provisions” of a rider in Congress which has prevented D.C. from using local tax dollars to create an unregulated system for recreational sales of cannabis, which has been in force for a number of years, despite the fact that voters approved a cultivation and possession legalization plan in 2014.
“The basic language of the bill doesn’t permit recreational distribution, possession or consumption or consumption of marijuana.” the bill states. “Rather it allows qualified medical patients to self-certify they meet the requirements of laws.”
The measure also grants city officials the authority to pursue enforcement actions against any person who “knowingly engages in or willfully engages in purchase or sale, exchange or other type of commercial transaction that involves cannabis that isn’t either sold or purchased or exchanged” under the gifting clause in the district’s law on marijuana.
The most common use for medical marijuana in the United States is for pain control. While marijuana isn’t strong enough for severe pain (for example, post-surgical pain or a broken bone), it is quite effective for the chronic pain that plagues millions of Americans, especially as they age.
Part of its allure is that it is clearly safer than opiates (it is impossible to overdose on and far less addictive) and it can take the place of NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve, if people can’t take them due to problems with their kidneys or ulcers or GERD.
In particular, marijuana appears to ease the pain of multiple sclerosis, and nerve pain in general. This is an area where few other options exist, and those that do, such as Neurontin, Lyrica, or opiates are highly sedating. Patients claim that marijuana allows them to resume their previous activities without feeling completely out of it and disengaged.