D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law Wednesday an emergency bill allowing residents 21 and older to self-prescribe medical marijuana.
Effective immediately, under the new law, residents over 21 no longer need a doctor’s recommendation for a medical marijuana patient card, which was required to enter and make purchases at one of the city’s seven medical marijuana dispensaries.
Residents can register for their patient card for free through Aug. 18 at the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration’s website, in person at the ABRA’s office inside the Reeves Center in Northwest or by mail at 2000 14th Street NW, Suite 102A (First Floor), Washington, D.C. 20009.
“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,” Bowser said in a statement.
The law — which passed the D.C. Council in late June — is intended to boost the business of medical marijuana dispensaries while dealing a blow to unregulated marijuana “gifting shops.”
There are several dozen unregulated gifting shops throughout the District, which operate through a loophole in D.C.’s 2015 law legalizing possession of marijuana.
The gifting shops provide gifts of marijuana to buyers of cheap, incidental items, such as artwork, clothing or other items.
Bowser said the new law is an “innovative solution to a complex issue.” She said she looks forward to more comprehensive medical marijuana legislation in the future.