Updated on June 28, 2021. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Patients can obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes when his or her primary healthcare practitioner has provided a written recommendation for it. This recommendation must assert that the use of marijuana is medically necessary for the patient for the treatment of a qualifying medical condition or to mitigate the side effects of a qualifying medical treatment.
May 04, 2010, Amendment Act B18-622, the “Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act of 2010” was approved, and signed by the Mayor on May 21, 2010. The law then underwent a 30-day Congressional review period, during which time, neither the Senate nor the House did anything to stop the law, making it effective, at the end of the review period.
Emergency amendment to title 22 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR), was announced on April 14, 2011, in which a new subtitle C titled “Medical Marijuana”, was added. January 03, 2012, the final rulemaking was released online.
February 14, 2013, the DC Department of Health’s Health Regulation and Licensing Administration released a revised timeline for the dispensary application process, listing June 08, 2012, as the date for which the Department intends to announce dispensary applicants available for registration. In April 2013, the state issued its first medical marijuana dispensary license.
Amendment Act B18-622 — AKA the “Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act of 2010”
AN ACT Codification District of Columbia Official Code
2010 Fall Supp.
West Group Publisher
ENROLLED ORIGINAL IN THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
To amend the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1999 to define key terms, to clarify who is permitted to cultivate, possess, dispense, or use medical marijuana, to require a written recommendation from one’s physician, to restrict the use of medical marijuana, to protect physicians from sanctions for recommending medical marijuana, to establish a medical marijuana program, to establish requirements for dispensaries and cultivation centers, to authorize the Board of Medicine to audit physician recommendations and to discipline physicians who act outside of the law, to set out penalties for violating this act, to prohibit the public use of medical marijuana, to establish a Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, to require fees collected to be applied toward administering this act, to establish liability provisions, to clarify that this act does not require any public or private insurance to cover medical marijuana, and to authorize the Mayor to issue rules; and to amend the District of Columbia Health Occupations Revision Act of 1985, the Health Clarifications Act of 2001, the District of Columbia Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 1981, and the Drug Paraphernalia Act of 1982 to make conforming amendments.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this act may be cited as the “Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act of 2010”.
Sec. 2. The Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1999, effective February 25, 2010 (D.C. Law 13-315; 57 DCR 3360), is amended to read as follows:
“Sec. 2. Definitions.
“For the purposes of this act, the term:
“(1) “Administer” or “administration” means the direct introduction of medical marijuana, whether by inhalation, ingestion, or any other means, into the body of a person.
“(2) “Bona fide physician-patient relationship” means a relationship between a physician and patient in which the physician:
“(A) Has completed a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, including a personal physical examination; and
“(B) Has responsibility for the ongoing care and treatment of the patient. “(3) “Caregiver” means a person who:
“(A) Is designated by a qualifying patient as the person authorized, on the qualifying patient’s behalf, to possess, obtain from a dispensary, dispense, and assist in the administration of medical marijuana;
caregiver; patient; and
“(B) Is registered with the Department as the qualifying patient’s
“(C) Is not currently serving as the caregiver for another qualifying
“(D) Is at least 18 years of age.
“(4) “Controlled Substances Act” means the District of Columbia Uniform
Controlled Substances Act of 1981, effective August 5, 1981 (D.C. Law 4-29; D.C. Official Code § 48-901.02 et seq.).
“(5) “Cultivation center” means a facility operated by an organization or business registered with the Mayor pursuant to section 6 from or at which medical marijuana is cultivated, possessed, manufactured, and distributed in the form of medical marijuana, and paraphernalia is possessed and distributed to dispensaries.
“(6) “Department” means the Department of Health.
“(7) “Dispensary” means a facility operated by an organization or business registered with the Mayor pursuant to section 6 from or at which medical marijuana is possessed and dispensed and paraphernalia is possessed and distributed to a qualifying patient or a caregiver.
“(8) “Dispense” means to distribute medical marijuana to a qualifying patient or caregiver pursuant to this act and the rules issued pursuant to section 14.
“(9) “Distribute” means the actual, constructive, or attempted transfer from one person to another.
“(10) “Manufacture” means the production, preparation, propagation, compounding, conversion, or processing of marijuana, either directly or indirectly by extraction from substances of natural origin, or independently by means of chemical synthesis, or by a combination of extraction and chemical synthesis, and includes any packaging or repackaging of the substance or labeling or re-labeling of its container.
“(11) “Marijuana” shall have the same meaning as provided in section 102(3)(A) of the Controlled Substances Act.
“(12) “Medical marijuana” means marijuana cultivated, manufactured, possessed, distributed, dispensed, obtained, or administered in accordance with this act and the rules issued pursuant to section 14.
“(13) “Minor” means any person under 18 years of age, but does not include an emancipated minor.
“(14) “Paraphernalia” means:
“(A) Objects used, intended for use, or designed for use in preparing,
storing, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing medical marijuana into the human body; and
“(B) Kits, objects, devices, or equipment used, intended for use, or designed for use in planting, propagating, manufacturing, cultivating, growing, harvesting, processing, or preparing medical marijuana.
“(15) “Physician” means an individual who is licensed and in good standing to practice medicine or osteopathy under District law.
“(16) “Program” means the medical marijuana program established by section 6. “(17) “Qualifying medical condition” means:
“(A) Human immunodeficiency virus;
“(B) Acquired immune deficiency syndrome;
“(D) Conditions characterized by severe and persistent muscle spasms,
such as multiple sclerosis;
“(E) Cancer; or
“(F) Any other condition, as determined by rulemaking, that is: “(i) Chronic or long-lasting;
“(ii) Debilitating or interferes with the basic functions of life; and “(iii) A serious medical condition for which the use of medical
marijuana is beneficial: medical or surgical measure; or
“(I) That cannot be effectively treated by any ordinary
“(II) 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.
“(18) “Qualifying medical treatment” means:
“(B) The use of azidothymidine or protease inhibitors;
“(C) Radiotherapy; or
“(D) 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.
“(19) “Qualifying patient” means a resident of the District who has a qualifying medical condition or is undergoing a qualifying medical treatment.
“(20) “Residence” means a dwelling or dwelling unit in which a person lives in a particular locality with the intent to make it a fixed and permanent home.
“Sec. 3. Use of medical marijuana.
“(a) Notwithstanding any other District law, a qualifying patient may possess and administer medical marijuana, and possess and use paraphernalia, in accordance with this act and the rules issued pursuant to section 14.
“(b) Notwithstanding any other District law, a caregiver may possess and dispense medical marijuana to a qualifying patient, and possess and use paraphernalia, for the sole purpose of assisting in the administration of medical marijuana to a qualifying patient in accordance with this act and the rules issued pursuant to section 14.
“(c) A qualifying patient may possess and administer medical marijuana, and possess and use paraphernalia, only for treatment of a qualifying medical condition or the side effects of a qualifying medical treatment and only after having:
“(1) Obtained a signed, written recommendation from a physician in accordance with section 5; and
“(2) Registered with the Mayor pursuant to section 6.
“(d) A qualifying patient or caregiver shall only possess, administer, or dispense
medical marijuana, or possess or use paraphernalia, obtained from a dispensary registered with the Mayor pursuant to section 6.
“(e) A qualifying patient who is a minor may possess and administer medical marijuana only if the parent or legal guardian of the minor has signed a written statement affirming that the parent or legal guardian:
“(1) Understands the qualifying medical condition or qualifying medical treatment of the minor;
“(2) Understands the potential benefits and potential adverse effects of the use of medical marijuana, generally, and, specifically, in the case of the minor;
“(3) Consents to the use of medical marijuana for the treatment of the minor’s qualifying medical condition or treatment of the side effects of the minor’s qualifying medical treatment; and
“(4) Consents to, or designates another adult to, serve as the caregiver for the qualifying patient and the caregiver controls the acquisition, possession, dosage, and frequency of use of medical marijuana by the qualifying patient.
“Sec. 4. Restrictions on use of medical marijuana.
“(a) The maximum amount of medical marijuana that any qualifying patient or caregiver may possess at any moment is 2 ounces of dried medical marijuana; provided, that the Mayor, through rulemaking, may increase the quantity of dried medical marijuana that may be possessed up to 4 ounces; and shall promulgate through rulemaking limits on medical marijuana of a form, other than dried.
“(b)(1) Medical marijuana shall not be administered by or to a qualifying patient anywhere other than the qualifying patient’s residence, if permitted, or at a medical treatment facility when receiving medical care for a qualifying medical condition, if permitted by the facility.
“(2) A qualifying patient or caregiver shall not administer medical marijuana at a dispensary or cultivation center.
“(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) of this subsection, a qualifying patient shall not use medical marijuana if exposure to the medical marijuana or the medical marijuana smoke would adversely affect the health, safety, or welfare of a minor.
“(c) A qualifying patient or caregiver shall transport medical marijuana in a labeled container or sealed package in a manner and method established by rulemaking.
“(d) Nothing in this act permits a person to:
“(1) Undertake any task under the influence of medical marijuana when doing so
would constitute negligence or professional malpractice; or
“(2) Operate, navigate, or be in actual physical control of any motor vehicle,
aircraft, or motorboat while under the influence of medical marijuana.
“(e) The use of medical marijuana as authorized by this act and the rules issued pursuant
to section 14 does not create a defense to any crime and does not negate the mens rea element for any crime except to the extent of the voluntary-intoxication defense recognized in District of Columbia law.
“(f) Notwithstanding any other law, a person or entity may provide information about the existence or operations of a cultivation center or dispensary to another person pursuant to this law.
“(g) A qualified patient, caregiver, or an employee of a cultivation center or a dispensary who is stopped by the police upon reasonable suspicion or probable cause that the stopped individual is in possession of marijuana may not be further detained or arrested on this basis alone if the police determine that he or she is in compliance with this act and the rules issued pursuant to section 14.
“Sec. 5. Recommending physician; protections.
“(a) A physician may recommend the use of medical marijuana to a qualifying patient if the physician:
“(1) Is in a bona fide physician-patient relationship with the qualifying patient; and
“(2) Makes the recommendation based upon the physician’s assessment of the qualifying patient’s medical history, current medical condition, and a review of other approved medications and treatments that might provide the qualifying patient with relief from a qualifying medical condition or the side effects of a qualifying medical treatment.
“(b)(1) A physician’s recommendation that a qualifying patient may use medical marijuana shall be signed by the physician and include:
“(A) The physician’s medical license number; and
“(B) A statement that the use of medical marijuana is necessary for the treatment of a qualifying medical condition or the side effects of a qualifying medical treatment.
“(2) A physician’s recommendation shall be valid only if it is written on a form prescribed by the Mayor.
“(c) Except as provided in section 8, a physician shall not be subject to any penalty, including arrest, prosecution, or disciplinary proceeding, or denial of any right or privilege, for advising a qualifying patient about the use of medical marijuana or recommending the use of medical marijuana to a qualifying patient pursuant to this act and the rules issued pursuant to section 14.
“(d) A physician recommending the use of medical marijuana by a qualifying patient shall not have a professional office located at a dispensary or cultivation center or receive financial compensation from a dispensary or cultivation center, or a director, officer, member, incorporator, agent, or employee of a dispensary or cultivation center.