The DC Council pushes ahead with its own cannabis reforms

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The nation’s capital is progressing with cannabis laws without Congressional intervention

Washington, DC, has been one of the jurisdictions that has been making the most changes to its cannabis-related laws. Late last week, lawmakers gave the green light to a bill that would give the District’s medical marijuana program a noticeable makeover in several ways. Of particular note are the promotion of social equity in the industry, the elimination of licensing limits for medical marijuana businesses, and the creation of new regulated business categories such as marijuana cooking classes and safe consumption sites.

DC Council President Phil Mendelson is leading this legislative effort on behalf of Mayor Muriel Bowser. The measure contains language that would give officials the power to crack down on “giveaway” operators who sell unrelated items for “free” cannabis. The idea through this is that businesses will feel more encouraged to become part of the regulated and legal market by taking advantage of the new doors being opened through licensing.

While it received some amendments, the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee gave the green light to the Medical Cannabis Amendment Act. This means that the proposal will now head to the Business and Economic Development Committee, before potentially going before the full Council.

Originally, the measure would have expanded the number of dispensaries by a certain number and removed other licensing restrictions. However, after the committee reviewed it closely, it was determined that it is best to remove the limits altogether, leaving it to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to make that decision.