The Washington, D.C. Council unanimously approved emergency legislation on Tuesday that will effectively create a recreational marijuana market by allowing people to self-certify themselves as medical cannabis patients and access dispensaries—without needing to get a recommendation from a doctor.
The legislation from Councilmembers Kenyan McDuffie (D) and Mary Cheh (D) cleared the full Council in a 13-0 vote.
It effectively enables the District to circumvent a congressional rider barring D.C. from using its local dollars to implement a system of adult-use marijuana sales. Voters approved the legalization of personal cannabis possession, cultivation and gifting at the ballot in 2014, but there’s been no licensed retailers for non-patients.
A similar bill that would have also provided the cannabis self-certification process was narrowly defeated in April. But the reason for its defeat was largely related to separate provision’s in Chairman Phil Mendelson’s (D) measure that would have cracked down on unlicensed businesses that are using existing policy to “gift” cannabis to people who purchase unrelated products and services.
Those enforcement provisions were not included in the legislation passed on Tuesday. However, the issue was addressed in a resolution attached to the measure. It notes that there are “lower barriers to access” at “gray” market suppliers, because an unregistered person could simply buy a non-cannabis items in exchange gifted marijuana, without going through the application and certification process to access licensed dispensaries.