DC Bill Lets Canna Stores Get Retail Licenses

A Bill in The District of Columbia to Allow Unlicensed Cannabis Stores to Get Retail Licenses

Multiple attempts by D.C. officials over the past year to crack down on unlicensed cannabis stores, often known as “gifting” or “I-71” shops, have been largely unsuccessful.

Many business owners clashed with D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson earlier this year, as he attempted to enact emergency legislation to shut them down and criticized them as unlawful operations controlled by Big Weed businesses from outside the District.

Numerous unlicensed shops and more than a hundred illegal delivery services are allegedly currently active in the nation’s capital.

As a result of the failure of Mendelson’s crackdown laws and the cancellation of a city task force to probe giving stores, the gray market ultimately prevailed. However, this was only achieved after extensive lobbying on the part of groups like the I-71 Committee and the Generational Equity Movement, which mobilized business owners to fight council efforts to interfere with the industry.

In its original form, the Medical Cannabis Amendment Act aimed to permanently relax regulations on medical weed businesses by, among other things, removing a limit on the number of plants producers can grow and allowing shops to distribute weed. It attempted to improve social justice by re-engaging persons with criminal records who had committed minor marijuana infractions.

Patients who cannot afford to possess medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary run the risk of consuming tainted products, according to a proposed Council resolution declaring an emergency to adopt the legislation swiftly. 

However, activists voiced concern over the proposal’s crackdown elements, arguing that they would have discouraged businesses from expanding access to marijuana by distributing free cannabis as a legal “gift” under the 2014 reform initiative and avoiding technically breaking the law by accepting payments for non-marijuana items like t-shirts and juices.

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