The DC Council voted on Tuesday, April 5 against an emergency bill that would pave the way for the city administration to shut down shops that “gift” marijuana to clients along with purchases.
The bill aimed at banning businesses from offering marijuana as a gift, and removing the requirement of receiving a doctor’s note for people 21 and older to buy medical cannabis by allowing them to self-certify their need for accessing marijuana.
Dozens of DC stores that don’t normally sell marijuana give out their customers marijuana for free as a way to circumvent the current prohibition on the sale of recreational pot in the District.
The practice, which is criticized by medical marijuana dispensaries, started based on a loophole in Initiative 71 that legalized possessing marijuana of up to two ounces, as well as trading it.
The new bill stated that it was “intended to ease the burdens for qualifying patients to access medical cannabis in light of the mass expiration of patient registration at the end of the public health emergency on July 25, 2021, and the continuing threat posed by illicit cannabis storefronts and delivery services.”
“Don’t be confused by misinformation. This legislation makes it easier to get cannabis legally. And there is nothing in the bill about criminal penalties,” said DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who proposed the bill, ahead of the vote.
In 2014, District residents voted to legalize marijuana. However, an ongoing congressional ban stands in the way of conducting legal recreational sales in the city.