Washington, D.C. Medical Cannabis Update: Expanded Medical Cannabis Access, Social Equity Opportunities and Open Licensing Periods

By David M. Ullian

Oct 26, 2023

On October 11, 2023, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed D.C. Act 25-222, the Medical Cannabis Clarification and Non-Resident Patient Access Temporary Amendment Act of 2023, which extends recent changes to the District's medical cannabis program.

The Act introduces several notable provisions, including expanded access for non-resident patients, updates to testing lab procedures, and expanded criteria for social equity applicants. In addition to these provisions, social equity applicants, unlicensed operators, and existing cannabis businesses should be aware of open and upcoming application periods for medical cannabis business licenses in Washington, DC.

Read on for a summary of the Medical Cannabis Clarification and Non-Resident Patient Access Temporary Amendment Act of 2023, plus key licensing application dates.

Medical Cannabis Clarification and Non-Resident Patient Access Temporary Amendment Act of 2023

With the new Act signed, the District continues to develop its existing medical cannabis program by providing more flexibility for non-District registered patients, enabling more licensed testing labs to support patients and licensed cannabis operators with product testing services, and expanding the criteria for individuals to qualify as social equity applicants.

Washington,  DC Medical Cannabis Patient Registrations

The Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Board (ABCB) will now be able to issue temporary patient registration identification cards to non-District residents for periods ranging from three days to one year. Under preexisting law, temporary patient registrations for non-District residents are only valid for 30 days.

Cannabis Testing Laboratories

Registered medical cannabis patients will be allowed to submit medical cannabis product samples purchased at any licensed retailer in the District directly to licensed testing laboratories for testing.

Testing labs will be allowed to conduct quality assurance or research and development testing for licensed cultivation centers and manufacturers.

The ABCB can issue one-year conditional licenses to testing lab applicants without a proposed facility location and waive the initial application fee.

Criteria for Social Equity Applicant Status

The statutory definition of a “social equity applicant” will be amended to include arrests and convictions for a cannabis or drug offense of qualifying family members of an individual applicant. The list of qualifying family members will be expanded to include grandparents and siblings.

Open Periods for Medical Cannabis Business License Applications

The District’s Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Administration (ABCA) only accepts medical cannabis business license applications during open periods. Potential operators should be aware of the beginning and end dates of open application periods, the types of applicants that are eligible to apply, and the types of licenses available during these limited application windows.

  • All operators currently licensed by the ABCA are eligible to apply for Cultivation Center, Manufacturer, and Retailer licenses through May 1, 2024.

  • Both social equity applicants and non-social equity applicants are currently eligible to apply for Cultivation Center, Manufacturer, and Courier licenses. This open application period will close at 4 p.m. ET on October 30, 2023.

  • Unlicensed operators can apply for Cultivation Center, Retailer, and Internet Retailer licenses from November 1, 2023 to January 29, 2024. Unlicensed operators (I-71 stores) are businesses that have conducted commercial or “gifting” cannabis transactions from a physical location in the District since at least December 31, 2022, but have not obtained a valid medical cannabis business license.

  • Social equity applicants will be able to apply for Retailer and Internet Retailer licenses between March 1, 2024 and April 30, 2024.

  • Non-social equity applicants will be eligible to apply for Retailer and Internet Retailer licenses between July 1, 2024 and August 29, 2024.

Considering the statutory changes and open application periods discussed above, interested parties seeking to take advantage of these new cannabis business licensing opportunities in the District of Columbia should start preparing now.

Vicente LLP is actively monitoring developments in Washington D.C.’s medical cannabis business regulations. We are here to guide you through filling out an application, applying as a Social Equity Applicant, and any other application-related issues. We also offer a wide range of services, including corporate formation, community outreach, real estate, and regulatory compliance. Contact David Ullian at d.ullian@vicentellp.com or 617-752-7148 if you have questions or need assistance.

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