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Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in DC

Should you get your medical card if you live in DC? While recreational or adult use has passed by voter initiative, it will take some time before recreational dispensaries can sell to non-medical cardholders.  While it has not been determined yet, people without a medical card in the District of Columbia may not be permitted to grow their own cannabis. 

Another advantage for patients with a qualifying health condition in DC is taxation.  Currently, in Washington DC, medical marijuana products are taxed at a rate of 5.75%. But the taxation rate for producers and retailers averages about 60%, which makes DC medical marijuana very expensive to sell for cultivators.  And expensive to buy for patients with a medical card. 

The tax rate will be higher when the legal path is cleared for recreational dispensaries to start selling cannabis in DC.  Adult-use customers almost always pay a much higher sales tax on all products than medicinal users or registered patients. 

Medical Marijuana in Washington DC (2021 Update)

The District of Columbia (DC) residents can legally be permitted to purchase, possess, use, home cultivate, and even transport cannabis. If they have a medical card and are part of the DC Department of Health Medical Cannabis Program. 

There are dispensaries in DC, but according to the current state law, it is illegal to sell cannabis to non-cardholders. So, you won’t get into trouble for buying it, possessing or using it. But the company that sold it to you could face criminal charges if you do not have a medical card. 

The United States Congress has oversight over the government of the District of Columbia. And almost 30% of DC is declared federal land. This has also made things more complicated, but the new proposed legislation will fix the legal contradiction created by Initiative 71. This is also referred to as the “Harris Rider.” 

Right now, dispensaries in Washington DC can ‘gift’ a customer with marijuana with another purchase. But they cannot sell marijuana. So, visiting a smoke shop could mean buying a t-shirt for $75 and getting one-eighth of cannabis as a bonus ‘gift’ with your purchase. 

A new “minibus” package was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives that included funding for different initiatives. Including a precursor to the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act. And some provisions that may make it legal for dispensaries to sell recreational cannabis in DC.


Who qualifies for medical marijuana in Washington DC?

When Washington DC first legalized medical marijuana, there was a list of qualifying health conditions. And a patient had to have one of the conditions in order to be eligible to apply for a DC medical card. 

Now, it is up to the discretion of the physician. Any doctor can recommend medical cannabis for a patient in their care. The doctor must feel that medical marijuana can be beneficial for symptom management and safe for patient use. 

Some of the most commonly diagnosed health conditions approved by physicians include: 

  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Chronic intractable pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Terminal illness 
  • Epilepsy and persistent involuntary muscle spasms
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease

The referring DC marijuana doctor still requires a medical health evaluation. That includes reviewing current symptoms and medications, chronic diseases, lifestyle, and family health history. 

What Medical Marijuanas are Available in DC?

Since both medical cannabis and adult-use (recreational) are legalized, residents have access to the full spectrum of THC-infused products. Dispensaries in Washington DC carry everything from the whole flower to vape cartridges, tinctures, topical creams and ointments, capsules, and edibles. 

Since 2014, patients in DC have also been legally permitted to have seeds, or seedlings, and up to six cannabis plants for home cultivation. 

How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Washington DC Medical Card?

Patients must be eighteen (18) years of age or older in order to apply for a medical marijuana card in Washington, DC. Minors under the age of eighteen years must have a letter of parental consent. 

Do I need to create my own MMJ patient profile?

Yes. Once you have received the certification from the physician, you will need to complete the application process. You can mail in your application, but processing takes longer. If you choose to complete your application online through the DC Department of Health Medical Cannabis Program it is faster. 

You will need to provide an electronic copy of your letter of physician certification, copies of two different types of identification that prove you are a resident of the District of Columbia. And you will have to pay a $100 application fee online. 

The DC Department of Health Medical Cannabis Program requires that patients fill out a different form, depending on what specialty practitioner completed the health evaluation. The patient application requirements are different depending on what type of practitioner provided the certification letter.

Here are the application pages and forms for each type of practitioner:

Patients are also required to choose a licensed dispensary. This will be your designated dispensary and the only place you will be allowed to buy cannabis products with your DC medical card.

Can I register my child for medical marijuana?

If you are the parent or legal guardian of a child with a debilitating health condition, you can become a caregiver. First, the child must be certified and become a registered member of the DC medical marijuana program. Next, the caregiver will have to apply and be designated by the patient. 

Caregivers assist by consulting with physicians regarding treatment plans for medical cannabis. A caregiver may also visit a dispensary and purchase cannabis products or devices used for administration. A medical marijuana caregiver in DC can also assist by safely storing, preparing, and administering doses of cannabis according to physician recommendations. 

How can I become a caregiver for MMJ in DC?

Caregivers in Washington DC must meet certain criteria in order to assist a patient who is a minor. Caregivers must apply separately and have their card; the name of the patient that the caregiver assists will be on that card. Caregivers are listed on the statewide medical cannabis registry. 

To be a caregiver for the medical cannabis program in Washington DC, you must:

  • Be age eighteen (18) years or older. 
  • Designated by the patient to serve as the person who is authorized to buy, possess, dispense and administer cannabis products to the minor (patient). 
  • Not be the caregiver for another patient.

Caregivers must have a clear background. And they cannot have a prior conviction of a controlled substance crime. Suppose the conviction occurred after July 2010 after the passing of the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Amendment Act of 2010 (D.C. Bill 18-622). In that case, the caregiver might still be approved to assist. 

How do I renew my DC medical card?

The Washington DC medical card is valid for one year. Patients are required to renew their medical card before the card expires. Once your DC medical card has expired, you will not be allowed to purchase cannabis from a dispensary. 

If you move to Washington DC or visit, and a doctor in your home state issued you a medical card, you will be able to buy medical marijuana. The District of Columbia’s medical marijuana program recognizes medical cards from thirty-four (34) states as long as the card was issued after receiving a private practice physician referral. Not a ‘medical card referral company.’ 

What if I lose my medical card in DC?

If you have lost, destroyed, or had your DC medical marijuana card stolen, you have to report it to ABRA within twenty-four hours after you misplace your card. Patients are required to fill out a Medical Cannabis Patient Card Replacement Form online to request a new card. 

Where do you get medical marijuana in DC?

Medical marijuana can be purchased at licensed dispensaries in Washington DC. However, patients are only permitted to purchase cannabis from the dispensary that they chose during the application process. 

Patients or designated caregivers are allowed to buy up to four (4) ounces of cannabis in any thirty-day period. However, medical cardholders and caregivers are only allowed to possess up to two ounces at any time. And this limit applies to all types of medical marijuana, from flower to edibles and concentrates. 

When did medical marijuana in Washington DC become legal?

Medical marijuana was first legalized in the District of Columbia on November 4, 2004.

The History of Medical Marijuana in Washington DC

The big fight in Washington, DC right now is over adult-use or recreational cannabis. Many acts and laws have been introduced to administratively blog adult-use sales, even though voters legally ratified it. 

1906—Congress introduced an act that regulated pharmacy and forbade the sale of poisons in the District of Columbia. At that time, cannabis could still be prescribed by a licensed pharmacist or physician. 

Source Web 2021:

November 1998—Initiative 59 was placed on the voter ballot. The title of the proposed legislation was “Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998”. Initiative 59 passed with 69% of the vote, but the Barr Amendment blocked it. The amendment made it illegal for DC to use any funds to support a medical cannabis program. The Barr Amendment was overturned in 2009.

Source Web 2021:

July 2013—The first patient in the District of Columbia legally purchases medical cannabis. Capital City Care was the first medical cannabis dispensary that opened in DC. The first four strains available to patients cost $380 to $440 per ounce. 

Source Web 2021:

December 2014—The Omnibus Spending Bill (dubbed the CRomnibus) contained a legal rider aimed at the District of Columbia’s Initiative 71 (adult-use cannabis legalization). It made it illegal to use any DC government funds to “ “enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.)”.

Source Web 2021:


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How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in District of Columbia

  1. First, you need a signed Physician’s Statement from a physician, currently licensed to practice medicine in District of Columbia – *Find a certified medical marijuana physician in District of Columbia
  2. To qualify, a patient needs to be diagnosed by a physician as having one of the following debilitating medical conditions that is specifically identified in the law:
    • HIV/AIDSglaucomamultiple sclerosiscancer, or any other condition, as determined by rulemaking that is, chronic or long-lasting; 
    • or is debilitating or interferes with the basic functions of life; and is a serious medical condition for which the use of medical marijuana is beneficial, that cannot be effectively treated by any ordinary medical or surgical measure, or for which there is scientific evidence that the use of medical marijuana is likely to be significantly less addictive than the ordinary medical treatment for that condition.
    • Patients may also qualify by undergoing any of the following medical treatments: Chemotherapyradiotherapy; the use of azidothymidine or protease inhibitors; or any other treatment as determined by rulemaking, whose side effects require treatment through the administration of medical marijuana in the same manner as a qualifying medical condition.
  3. Patients must be 18 years of age, and be a District of Columbia resident.
  4. Patients are required to obtain legitimate medical records or documentation from their primary care physician describing the diagnosis of their qualifying condition – *Learn how to request your medical records
  5. Patients are required to register with the District of Columbia Department of Health. Registration is mandatory.
  6. The patient registry application fee is $100 for new and renewal applications. For patients on Social Security disability, Supplemental Security Insurance, or low income, the fee is $25, with the appropriate documentation.
  7. Submit applications to:

Health Regulation and Licensing Administration
899 N. Capitol Street, NE
2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: 202-442-5955
WebsiteDistrict of Columbia Medical Marijuana Program

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Finally, a helpful & informative website! answered all of my medical marijuana questions and helped me schedule an appointment with an accredited doctor in my area.~Susan - Denver, CO