Code of the District of Columbia

§ 7–1671.06. Dispensaries and cultivation centers.

*NOTE: This section includes amendments by temporary legislation that will expire on October 27, 2021. To view the text of this section after the expiration of all emergency and temporary legislation, click this link: Permanent Version.*

*NOTE: This section includes amendments by temporary legislation that will expire on March 10, 2022. To view the text of this section after the expiration of all emergency and temporary legislation affecting this section, click this link: Permanent Version.*

(a) Notwithstanding any other District law, a dispensary may possess medical marijuana for the purpose of dispensing the medical marijuana to a qualifying patient or caregiver and may manufacture, purchase, possess, distribute, and use paraphernalia, in accordance with this chapter and the rules issued pursuant to § 7-1671.13.

(b) Notwithstanding any other District law, a cultivation center may cultivate and possess medical marijuana for the purpose of distribution to a dispensary and may manufacture, purchase, possess, and use paraphernalia in accordance with this chapter and the rules issued pursuant to § 7-1671.13.

(b-1) Notwithstanding any other District law, a testing laboratory may possess medical marijuana for the purpose of testing its contents, in accordance with this chapter and the rules issued pursuant to § 7-1671.13.

(c) A dispensary may dispense medical marijuana and distribute paraphernalia to a qualifying patient or the qualifying patient’s caregiver, and a qualifying patient or the qualifying patient’s caregiver may obtain medical marijuana and paraphernalia from a dispensary, only if the qualifying patient is registered to receive medical marijuana from that dispensary.

(d)(1) Each dispensary, cultivation center, and testing laboratory shall be registered with ABRA prior to manufacturing, cultivating, dispensing, possessing, testing, or distributing medical marijuana, or manufacturing, possessing, using, or distributing paraphernalia.

(2)(A) No more than 5 dispensaries shall be registered to operate in the District; provided, that the Mayor may increase the number to as many as 8 by rulemaking to ensure that qualifying patients have adequate access to medical marijuana; provided further, that no more than 2 dispensaries shall be registered to operate within an election ward established by the Council in § 1-1041.03.

(B) The prohibition of no more than 2 dispensaries being registered to operate within an election ward set forth in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph shall apply to applications pending as of December 13, 2013.

(C)(i) No more than one dispensary may be registered to operate in any election ward in which 5 or more cultivation centers have been registered to operate.

(ii) The prohibition of no more than one dispensary being registered to operate within an election ward in which 5 or more cultivation centers have been registered to operate set forth in sub-subparagraph (i) of this subparagraph shall apply to applications pending as of December 13, 2013.

(3)(A) The total number of cultivation centers that may be registered to operate within an election ward, established by the Council in § 1-1041.03, shall not exceed 6 and the total number of testing laboratories that may be registered to operate within an election ward shall not exceed 2.

(B) The prohibition of no more than 6 cultivation centers being registered to operate within an election ward set forth in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph shall apply to applications pending as of Dec. 13, 2013.

(C) Any applicant that submitted an application on July 19, 2015, for a registration to operate a cultivation center shall be allowed to modify the location of the cultivation center on its application without negatively affecting the current status of the application.

(4) The ABC Board may approve the holder of a cultivation center registration that also owns, or has a valid lease for, real property adjacent to its existing cultivation center to physically expand the registered cultivation center into that adjacent real property for the purpose of increasing production of medical marijuana.

(5)(A) An application for registration of a dispensary, cultivation center, or testing laboratory submitted by a medical cannabis certified business enterprise shall be awarded a preference point equal to 50 points or 20% of the available points, whichever is more.

(A-i) Straw ownership for the purposes of meeting the medical cannabis ownership requirements of this section is prohibited, both for a District resident and an out-of-state resident. A person who is found to have willfully asserted straw ownership shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine of not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

(B) A medical cannabis certified business enterprise shall:

(i) Have one or more owners who are economically disadvantaged individuals or individuals who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities and who are District residents and individually or collectively own at least 60% of the licensed business enterprise;

(ii) Have one or more owners whose income does not exceed $349,999, who are residents of the District, and whose net worth, excluding the value of their residence, does not exceed $1 million, and individually or collectively own at least 60% of the licensed business enterprise;

(iii) Have a chief executive officer and its highest-level managerial employees perform their managerial functions in a principal office located in the District;

(iv) Have at least 50% of its employees be residents of the District;

(v) Have at least 50% of its contractors be residents of the District; and

(vi) Have at least 80% of the assets of the certified business enterprise, including bank accounts, be in the District.

(C) An applicant seeking to qualify as a medical cannabis certified business enterprise shall submit with the application for registration of a dispensary, cultivation center, or testing laboratory, an affidavit attesting to:

(i) The number of owners of the applicant who are economically disadvantaged individuals or individuals who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities;

(ii) The ownership interest of any owners of the applicant who are economically disadvantaged individuals or individuals who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities;

(iii) The number of employees of the applicant who are economically disadvantaged individuals or individuals who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities; and

(iv) The number of contractors of the applicant who are economically disadvantaged individuals or individuals who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities.

(D) For the purpose of this paragraph, the term:

(i) "Economically disadvantaged individual" shall have the same meaning as set forth in § 2-218.02(7).

(ii) "Medical cannabis certified business enterprise" means a certified business enterprise, as that term is defined in § 2-218.02(1D), that operates a medical cannabis business as a dispensary, cultivation center, or testing laboratory.

(e)(1) A dispensary may not dispense more than 2 ounces of medical marijuana in a 30-day period to a qualifying patient, either directly or through the qualifying patient’s caregiver; provided, that the Mayor, through rulemaking, may increase the quantity of medical marijuana that may be dispensed to up to 4 ounces.

(2) Repealed.

(3) It shall be unlawful for a dispensary to dispense or possess more than the quantity of medical marijuana needed to support the number of qualifying patients or caregivers registered to receive medical marijuana at that dispensary, as determined by the Mayor pursuant to rules issued under § 7-1671.13; provided, that the ABC Board may allow a dispensary to possess a higher quantity of medical marijuana in anticipation of additional qualifying patients or caregivers registering.

(f) No marijuana or paraphernalia at a dispensary, cultivation center, or testing laboratory shall be visible from any public or other property.

(g) A dispensary, cultivation center, or testing laboratory shall not locate within any residential district or within 300 feet of a preschool, primary or secondary school, or recreation center.

(g-1)(1) A cultivation center shall not be located within a Retail Priority Area, as designated pursuant to § 2-1217.73, and as approved by the Council pursuant to the Great Streets Neighborhood Retail Priority Areas Approval Resolution of 2007, effective July 10, 2007 (Res. 17-257; 54 DCR 7194).

(2) Any applicant that had an application pending as of June 20, 2012, for a registration to operate a cultivation center within a Retail Priority Area as identified in paragraph (1) of this subsection, shall be allowed to modify the application within 180 days of May 1, 2013, without negatively affecting the current status of the application.

(g-2) A dispensary, cultivation center, or testing laboratory may be permitted to relocate to any election ward upon approval from the ABC Board; provided, that no more than 2 dispensaries and 6 cultivation centers may be registered to operate within an election ward.

(g-3) A dispensary, cultivation center, or testing laboratory may be permitted to change ownership or controlling interest upon approval from the ABC Board.

(h) Each dispensary, cultivation center, and testing laboratory" shall:

(1) Be either a for-profit or nonprofit corporation incorporated within the District;

(2) Implement a security plan to prevent the theft or diversion of medical marijuana, including maintaining all medical marijuana in a secure, locked room that is accessible only by authorized persons; and

(3) Ensure that all of its employees receive training on compliance with District law, medical marijuana use, security, and theft prevention.

(i) Each dispensary shall regularly distribute to all qualifying patients and caregivers the educational materials regarding potential harmful drug interactions developed as part of the Program.

(j)(1) No person seeking to be a director, officer, member, incorporator, or agent of a dispensary, cultivation center, or testing laboratory who has access to the medical cannabis at the dispensary, cultivation center, or testing laboratory shall have had a felony conviction for a crime of violence, a gun offense, tax evasion, fraud, or credit card fraud within the 3 years preceding the date the application for licensure is filed with ABRA.

(2) The ABC Board shall not disqualify an employee of a dispensary, cultivation center, or testing laboratory who has access to medical cannabis at the dispensary, cultivation center, or testing laboratory from working at the dispensary, cultivation center, or testing laboratory solely because the person has been convicted of a felony before filing the application.

(3) The ABC Board may establish additional criminal background requirements by rulemaking for testing laboratory agents that are responsible for testing cannabis and cannabis products and consult with other District agencies regarding an applicant's record of adherence to other regulatory requirements before granting an application.

(k) A person found to have violated any provision in this chapter shall not be a director, officer, member, incorporator, agent, or employee of a dispensary, cultivation center, or testing laboratory, and the registration identification card of the person shall be immediately revoked and the registration of the dispensary, cultivation center, or testing laboratory shall be suspended until the person is no longer a director, officer, member, incorporator, agent, or employee of the dispensary, cultivation center, or testing laboratory.


(Feb. 25, 2010, D.C. Law 13-315, § 7; as added July 27, 2010, D.C. Law 18-210, § 2, 57 DCR 4798; Dec. 13, 2013, D.C. Law 20-59, § 2, 60 DCR 15484; Mar. 10, 2015, D.C. Law 20-189, § 2(b), 61 DCR 12119; Feb. 18, 2017, D.C. Law 21-209, § 2(f), 63 DCR 15291; July 17, 2018, D.C. Law 22-128, § 2, 65 DCR 5755; Apr. 11, 2019, D.C. Law 22-288, § 205, 66 DCR 1656; May 10, 2019, D.C. Law 22-313, § 11, 66 DCR 1627; Dec. 3, 2020, D.C. Law 23-149, § 5012(e), 67 DCR 10493; Mar. 16, 2021, D.C. Law 23-253, § 2, 67 DCR 13917; July 28, 2021, D.C. Law 24-13, § 2(b), 68 DCR 005834.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-59 rewrote (d); and added (g-1).

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-189 substituted “500 living marijuana plants” for “95 living marijuana plants” in (e)(2).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of Medical Cannabis Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-104, June 17, 2021, 68 DCR 006458).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of Medical Cannabis Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-75, Mar. 22, 2021, 68 DCR 004932).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Plant Count Elimination Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-600, Jan. 13, 2021, 68 DCR 001202).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Plant Count Elimination Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-477, Nov. 2, 2020, 67 DCR 13269).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Plant Count Elimination Emergency Amendment Act of 2019 (D.C. Act 23-179, Dec. 5, 2019, 0 DCR 0).

For temporary (90 days) repeal of applicability provision of D.C. Law 22-288, see § 7168 of Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2019 (D.C. Act 23-112, Sept. 4, 2019, 66 DCR 11964).

For temporary (90 days) repeal of applicability provision of D.C. Law 22-288, see § 7168 of Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2019 (D.C. Act 23-91, July 22, 2019, 66 DCR 8497).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Relocation Emergency Amendment Act of 2018 (D.C. Act 22-645, Feb. 6, 2019, 66 DCR 2052).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Certified Business Enterprise Preference Emergency Amendment Act of 2018 (D.C. Act 22-334, May 3, 2018, 65 DCR 5058).

For temporary (90 days) , see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Relocation Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-109, July 28, 2017, 64 DCR 7394).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Certified Business Enterprise Preference Emergency Amendment Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-83, June 28, 2017, 64 DCR 6229).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Relocation Emergency Amendment Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-74, June 5, 2017, 64 DCR 6078).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Dispensary Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-18, Mar. 17, 2017, 64 DCR 3055).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Dispensary Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-573, Dec. 19, 2016, 63 DCR 15689).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Expansion Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-475, July 21, 2016, 63 DCR 10179).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Relocation Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-427, June 23, 2016, 63 DCR 9022).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Expansion Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-396, May 19, 2016, 63 DCR 7908).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of Medical Marijuana Expansion Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-3, Feb. 19, 2015, 62 DCR 2468).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center and Dispensary Locations Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-299, January 31, 2012, 59 DCR 902).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-339, April 7, 2012, 59 DCR 2784).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of the Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Emergency Amendment Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-4, January 29, 2013, 60 DCR 2790, 20 DCSTAT 438).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of the Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center and Dispensary Location Restriction Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-18, March 1, 2013, 60 DCR 3972, 20 DCSTAT 474).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of the Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-61, April 27, 2013, 60 DCR 6401, 20 DCSTAT 1408).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see §§ 2 and 3 of the Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-263, January 9, 2014, 61 DCR 328).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of the Medical Marijuana Expansion Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-396, July 29, 2014, 61 DCR 8255).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of the Medical Marijuana Expansion Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-479, Nov. 12, 2014, 61 DCR 12129, 20 STAT 4403).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of the Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-36, Mar. 30, 2015, 62 DCR 4548, 21 DCSTAT 876).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of the Medical Marijuana Supply Shortage Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-53, May 6, 2015, 62 DCR 5950, 21 DCSTAT 1428).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of the Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Exception Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-64, May 22, 2015, 62 DCR 6863, 21 DCSTAT 1443).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of the Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Expansion Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-104, July 20, 2015, 62 DCR 9965).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of the Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Expansion Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-156, Oct. 16, 2015, 62 DCR 13707).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of Medical Cannabis Temporary Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Law 24-13, July 28, 2021, 68 DCR 005834).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Plant Count Elimination Temporary Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Law 23-253, Mar. 16, 2021, 67 DCR 13917).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Plant Count Elimination Temporary Amendment Act of 2019 (D.C. Law 23-55, Feb. 21, 2020, 67 DCR 36).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Certified Business Enterprise Preference Temporary Amendment Act of 2017 (D.C. Law 22-18, Sept. 6, 2017, 64 DCR 6715).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Relocation Temporary Amendment Act of 2017 (D.C. Law 22-14, Aug. 19, 2017, 64 DCR 6247).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Dispensary Temporary Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Law 21-234, Apr. 1, 2017, 64 DCR 883).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Relocation Temporary Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Law 21-162, Oct. 13, 2016, 63 DCR 9815).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Expansion Temporary Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Law 21-146, Aug. 19, 2016, 63 DCR 9282).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of the Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center and Dispensary Locations Temporary Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Law 19-122, Apr. 27, 2012, 59 DCR 1705).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of the Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Temporary Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Law 19-146, Jun. 20, 2012, 59 DCR 4164).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of the Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Temporary Amendment Act of 2013 (D.C. Law 20-1, May 1, 2013, 60 DCR 3962, 20 DCSTAT 1262).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of the Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center and Dispensary Location Restriction Temporary Amendment Act of 2013 (D.C. Law 20-2, May 18, 2013, 60 DCR 4620, 20 DCSTAT 1264).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of the Medical Marijuana Expansion Temporary Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Law 20-163, February 26, 2015, 60 DCR 10753).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of the Medical Marijuana Supply Shortage Temporary Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Law 21-18, July 22, 2015, 62 DCR 6880).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of the Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Exception Temporary Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Law 21-22, Sept. 17, 2015, 62 DCR 8850).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of the Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center Expansion Temporary Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Law 21-33, Oct. 21, 2015, 62 DCR 10896).