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Washington, D.C. Bill Aims to Crack Down on Cannabis ‘Gifting’

· Nov 1, 2021
“To respond to the threats posed by illegal cannabis storefronts and delivery services, it is necessary [to] amend [city code] to authorize the revocation of licenses, sealing of premises, a ...

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A bill before the Washington, D.C. City Council seeks to crack down on the practice of cannabis “gifting” by local businesses, DCist reports. The proposal, introduced by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, would allow city agencies to revoke business licenses and impose fines for “purchasing, selling, or exchanging” cannabis.

“To respond to the threats posed by illegal cannabis storefronts and delivery services, it is necessary [to] amend [city code] to authorize the revocation of licenses, sealing of premises, and fines for businesses purchasing, selling, or exchanging marijuana in violation of the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1999 … and to authorize civil penalties for the housing providers of illegal cannabis businesses to ensure that the District can adequately respond to illegal cannabis storefronts and delivery services.” – Mendelson in an October 28 memo

Washington, D.C. voters approved broad legalization reforms in 2014 but Congress has repeatedly blocked the city from implementing regulations to allow for legal sales. Senate Democrats have removed the so-called Harris Rider – named after Republican Rep. Andy Harris, who first crafted the rider – from a proposed appropriations bill that would allow the District to move forward with cannabis industry regulations and, eventually, permit sales. The City Council has planned a public hearing later this month to consider legislation to allow adult-use cannabis sales.

Mandelson’s bill includes $30,000 fines for businesses that sell or gift cannabis in addition to closing the businesses temporarily.

“If nothing else we have a real problem. We have a legit business that’s suffering because of the black market,” Mendelson told DCist. “We can try to do something more than we have been.”

The proposal also includes provisions that would extend the validity of D.C. medical cannabis cards that have expired and extend the validity of new cards for two years instead of one.

The proposal is on Tuesday’s agenda and, as emergency legislation, requires nine votes to pass.