Metropolis leaders in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday prolonged a lifeline to the district’s beleaguered medical hashish dispensaries.
The D.C. Council gave unanimous approval to an emergency bill that can permit medical hashish sufferers “whose playing cards expired since Mar. 2020 to proceed utilizing them to buy medical marijuana by means of the tip of Jan. 2022,” the website DCist reported, whereas moreover creating “a brand new two-year medical marijuana card (as a substitute of the present one-year card), and will increase the quantity of marijuana a affected person should purchase at a time to eight ounces, up from 4.”
The emergency measure, the website noted, is designed to assist dispensaries that “have seen a steep drop-off in enterprise this 12 months as a result of many sufferers who noticed their medical marijuana playing cards expire through the pandemic haven’t renewed them but.”
The invoice was introduced by Phil Mendelson, chairman of the D.C. Council, who stated he was motivated to behave when a public well being emergency declared by the district expired in the summertime.
That resulted in “roughly 6,216 affected person registrations for the District’s medical hashish program [expiring] in a really quick time interval, lowering the variety of registered sufferers in this system from almost 12,000 to roughly 5,500,” Mendelson stated in a memorandum to the council late last month.
DCist reported that there was “minimal” debate over Mendelson’s invoice on Tuesday, though the leadup to the vote on the measure was at time contentious.
One of many key sticking factors, in response to the web site, centered round provisions in Mendelson’s unique invoice that “would have ramped up civil enforcement towards marijuana ‘gifting’ shops and supply companies, which have grown in quantity lately and have been accused of stealing enterprise from the regulated medical marijuana program.”
Such shops have skirted bans on promoting marijuana commercially by promoting merchandise like t-shirts for unusually excessive costs after which providing “presents” of marijuana to prospects within the transaction.
Mendelson in the end dropped that provision after “an outcry from operators of the shops and their advocates,” according to the DCist.
“For the reason that ordinary unlawful companies don’t comply with the identical guidelines as different licensees, they’re driving cultivators, producers, and retailers out of enterprise. In spite of everything, how are you going to compete with somebody who isn’t taking part in by the identical guidelines you’re certain to, similar to making certain high quality, paying gross sales taxes, and following different regulatory necessities?” Mendelson stated, as quoted by the website.
Mendelson’s considerations about illicit hashish gross sales in Washington, D.C. underscores a dilemma surrounding pot gross sales within the district that has continued years after voters there accredited a measure legalizing leisure marijuana.
District voters legalized weed in 2014, however gross sales of pot have continued to be unlawful as a consequence of congressional oversight of legal guidelines in D.C.
Each appropriations invoice handed by Congress since that legalization vote seven years in the past has included a finances rider, written initially by Republican Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland, that bars the district from commercializing weed.
But there have been recent signs that the so-called “Harris rider” might not be lengthy for this world.
The appropriations invoice launched final month by Democrats within the U.S. Senate, notably, did not include the rider, which was celebrated by marijuana advocates and Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
“The Senate appropriations invoice is a crucial step in recognizing that in a democracy, D.C. residents must be ruled by D.C. values,” Bowser’s office said in a statement the time. “As we proceed on the trail to D.C. statehood, I need to thank Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, Senator Patrick Leahy, our good pal and Subcommittee Chair, Senator Chris Van Hollen, and, in fact, our champion on the Hill, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, for recognizing and advancing the need of D.C. voters. We urge Congress to cross a ultimate spending invoice that equally removes all anti-House Rule riders, permitting D.C. to spend our native funds as we see match.”