D.C. Council Approves Longer Medical Cannabis Tax Holiday and New Regulations

The Council of the District of Columbia has unanimously passed the “Medical Cannabis Patient Card Extension 4/20 Medical Cannabis Sales Tax Holiday Week Emergency Amendment Act of 2024.” This new legislation brings three major changes to the district’s medical marijuana program.

Firstly, it extends the validity period of medical cannabis patient and caregiver registration cards from 2 years to 6 years before renewal is required. This move aims to improve patient access and align D.C.’s program with Maryland’s 6-year medical card duration.

Secondly, the bill grants the Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Administration (ABCA) emergency powers to shut down unlicensed cannabis retailers and confiscate any marijuana products if public safety is threatened. Mayor Muriel Bowser emphasized the importance of this provision after a recent murder at an illegal dispensary.

The third major change expands the existing medical cannabis tax holiday from April 20-24 to April 15-28 each year. This temporary suspension of sales tax is intended to attract more patients to the legal market and support the district’s medical marijuana industry, according to Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie.

However, the council vetoed a proposal to change zoning rules that would have prohibited all medical dispensaries from operating within 300 feet of schools and recreational facilities frequented by children. Only two existing locations would have been impacted, but concerns were raised about the difficulty of finding compliant real estate.

These actions come amid ongoing efforts by D.C. to regulate its cannabis market after legalizing possession and cultivation in 2014, while still grappling with a proliferation of unlicensed “gifting” operations exploiting legal loopholes. The new legislation equips regulators with stronger enforcement tools.


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