Last week, the Washington, D.C., City Council voted to expand its medical cannabis program by extending the eligibility of patients whose cards expired after March 2020. Patients with cards expiring after this date can now purchase medical cannabis through January 2022. The move comes in response to a significant slowdown in medical cannabis sales during the pandemic. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who proposed the bill, says that more than half of all medical cannabis patient registrations have expired since spring 2020, in part due to a slowdown in government operations because of COVID-19. The new bill also doubled the amount of cannabis District patients are allowed to purchase each month up to eight ounces. Included in Mendelson’s original proposal was a section penalizing “gift” businesses that skirt the law by selling legitimate items and providing cannabis for free. Dozens of such outfits have sprung up since cannabis was legalized in the District in 2015—many lease retail storefronts and pay taxes like any normal business. The original bill would have allowed these operators to face criminal charges and fines of up to $30,000. After significant backlash, the suggested penalties were removed the day before the vote. But the original proposal represents yet another example of the uneasy peace in the District’s cannabis industry, an undesirable situation created by a combination of Congressional interference and an inadequate medical program.
Cannabis Business Times, 11/08/2021 07:56:00