Here we go again. The medical marijuana industry in DC is on the war path again. The DCist reports “D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has called for a vote next Tuesday on emergency legislation that would allow the city to close down virtually any business that gives gifts of marijuana starting in mid-May, while at the same time eliminating the need for a doctor’s recommendation for anyone seeking marijuana from the city’s medical dispensaries”.
The DCist goes on to report that “Owners of medical marijuana dispensaries — which are legal, regulated, and taxed — have complained since last summer that they have lost customers and business to the gifting stores, which operate in a gray area of the law. Possessing, using, and growing small amounts of marijuana has been legal in D.C. since 2015, as has been giving it away”. The giving away part has reached many creative and clever avenues.
Some stores offer motivational speeches for a price then gift cannabis. Others offer stickers, pins or pens, t-shirts for $50 to $100; the cost of the cannabis being “gifted”. Medical dispensaries are upset that they pay to be “legal” but Initiative 71 storefronts can operate without paying taxes. The Outlaw report has also documented how many city residents complain about increased activity and crimes near such cannabis “gifting” centers.
The DCist goes on to report “The gifter businesses, which call themselves “I-71 shops” after the 2014 voter initiative that legalized gifting of marijuana, counter that what they are doing is not only perfectly legal but has also created a diverse homegrown industry of vendors that could serve as the foundation of a proper recreational market should D.C. ever be allowed to legalize marijuana sales”. The federal government maintains a rider every fiscal year that prevents DC from allowing a regulated cannabis market. Currently one can possess cannabis but not sell it.
The DCist goes on to state that “Mendelson’s bill, though, would largely snuff out the gifters by clarifying that “no person operating an unregistered establishment where retail goods or services are sold or available for purchase shall offer a patron marijuana or marijuana products as part of that retail or service transaction.” It would also make it illegal for any store outside of the medical program to possess marijuana or marijuana products, or to buy marijuana for anyone but a registered cultivator in D.C. (The ones that exist serve the medical program.)” This is a tough break for these businesses but the language in Initiative 71 has been consistent for years and the fine line they have been walking is being erased.
However, this will not affect my procuring my cannabis needs at all. I have been a member of a DC Delivery Dispensary service for years. Specifically, I subscribe to Select Co-op. Initiative 71 allows for the transportation of, gifting of, and possessing of cannabis. It is almost impossible to say you are gifting cannabis when you have a store full of cannabis. A Delivery Dispensary service may transport up to two ounces of flowers. If one is in the city limits a DC, Virginia, Maryland, etc. resident may schedule their appointment to receive their gift after subscribing. It is a simple and discrete process. While the storefronts are being pressed the DC Delivery Dispensaries are all good to patron. Happy 4:20!