The District of Columbia looks set for a big shake-up of its weed laws, including expanded access to medical cannabis and the sealing of certain marijuana-related criminal records.
City lawmakers passed two bills that seek to institute these changes. The Second Chance Amendment Act would establish an automatic review and expungement process for cannabis-related convictions concerning offenses now considered legal or decriminalized in DC.
In 2014, DC voters approved a municipal initiative to legalize the possession and home cultivation of limited quantities of cannabis.
If the new bill is passed into law, the relevant cannabis expungements would need to be finalized by January 1, 2025. The measure is currently under a 30-day Congressional review. If there is no intervention, the legislation is expected to take effect on March 16, 2023.
Meanwhile, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser signed separate legislation – the Medical Cannabis Amendment Act – into law. The latest reform to DC’s cannabis laws aims to increase the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the District. As well as approving more licenses, the new law will provide tax relief for medical cannabis dispensaries, allow individuals to “self-certify’ their own medical cannabis treatment, and establish new marijuana business licensing categories, including on-site consumption lounges.
As with the Second Chance Amendment Act, this legislation is also currently under Congressional review.
These aren’t the only marijuana-related bills DC lawmakers have been busy with recently. They also approved legislation that would increase medical cannabis possession limits and another bill that would allow nonresidents to access medical marijuana. Last year, the District also enacted legislation that protects marijuana users from workplace discrimination on the basis of off-the-job cannabis consumption.