D.C Residents Now Able to “Self-Certify” for Medical Marijuana

August 23, 2022

On July 6th D.C Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the “Medical Marijuana Self-Certification Emergency Amendment Act of 2022” into law.

With this law now enacted, D.C residents ages 21 and older will be able to sign documentation to “self-certify” themselves for a medical need to use marijuana without a Doctor’s recommendation.

It has been a priority for local leaders due to a rise in “gifting” marijuana after a small purchase of general merchandise (trinkets, shirts, stickers, etc.) at facilities not licensed for recreational marijuana sales. Making room for what’s being called a legal “gray” area for the local marijuana economy. Many medical marijuana dispensaries have been affected negatively by this gray area; What would be medical marijuana patients opt to go elsewhere rather than get a certification from a Doctor  to then purchase the marijuana legally.

With the price to obtain a recommendation costing as much as $100, it’s rather easy to see why people would rather save their money during this tough economic time. 

What This Means for the DC Community and Economy

This is great news for owners like Linda Green at Anacostia Organics however, saying "It's going to help us survive. We're very excited about it,".

This is after seeing a large uptick in business when a similar measure was passed earlier this year permitting the same self-certifying guidelines, reserved for D.C residents 65 and older. "Particularly here in my community, in Ward 8, we saw a huge increase," she continued.

This measure is expected to help the already massive $600 Million yearly Cannabis revenue in DC alone to keep growing. Though, these statistics include the illicit market as well. Which, believe it or not there are currently only seven licensed medical marijuana dispensaries within DC, an no licensed recreational dispensaries. 

Now that medical marijuana is accessible to everyone over the age of 21 by self-certification in DC, it creates the chance to combat the illicit market in the community.

Mayor Bowser later published a press release, expressing hope that read in part: “We know that by bringing more medical marijuana patients into the legal marketplace in a timely manner and doing more to level the playing field for licensed medical marijuana providers, we can protect residents, support local businesses, and provide clarity to the community.” Clarity being the key word in that statement. Clarity so residents can have fair access and not have to worry about a “gray” area in an already broken system

Summary of The Bills Pros and Cons


  • Licensed medical dispensaries will see increased business, this is huge considering that if one were to close… Without these dispensaries, far too many patients would be without close access to their medicine. 
  • This would produce higher tax revenue for DC in order to use for it’s fiscal budget.
  • It allows patients to acquire Cannabis safely and allows the consumer to have better options for their needs.
  • It will ideally reduce the crime level and prevents overcrowding within jails due to petty Cannabis crimes


  • It is a bandage to a problem that needs proper legislation to fix in order for recreational Cannabis more accessible. 
  • You may have to spend more money for your Cannabis within a licensed medical dispensary. You are going to get tested Cannabis with more variety though; More quality driven plus more variety equals a premium price to pay. 
  • Even though the gifting market is in a gray area, it will surely affect those businesses negatively on the opposite side of the spectrum.

How To Safely Acquire Cannabis in DC

starts with knowing that since DC is Federal land, it makes obtaining a license that much more difficult. Since Cannabis is still a Federally banned Schedule I substance, it complicates everything. So here are a few pointers:

  • It is best to just get it with your medical marijuana card to begin with. With this measure being passed, it should make it easier/cheaper to obtain. When one has their card it gives them access not only to the seven licensed dispensaries in DC, but it gives these individuals assurance of mind that these dispensaries are licensed, product tested, and trusted. 

  • If an individual comes to DC from a different state but has a valid medical marijuana card from their home state, they will have access to the licensed medical dispensaries in DC.

  • If one is a resident who does not want to self-certify, or a tourist who does not have a medical card from their home state should find the nearest licensed recreational dispensary near you in the surrounding areas of DC. This can be done by utilizing the tools found on Weedmaps or Leafly. 

  • Although this is not recommended, gifting is an option. This would be an example for the gifting gray area. The key to this would be that there is no direct financial transaction in exchange for Cannabis.


Hopefully this article will add some clarifications on the DC laws that are currently set in place. Local leaders will likely seek a complete resolution for the recreational market in the near future, but as of now  there is no time frame

About the author

John Kelly is an all around Cannabis enthusiast with over a decade of experience within the industry. With this passion, he hopes to educate and inspire others around the world who share the common interest of all things Cannabis.