While Washington D.C. is amongst the states that have seen a spike in medical marijuana sales during the coronavirus pandemic, it continues to expand access to medical marijuana.
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It was announced on September 24th that delivery services and registration card dates will be extended.
Focus on Providing Patients with Medical Cannabis during the Pandemic
The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) has assumed regulatory authority for the District’s medical cannabis program, which previously was the Department of Health’s responsibility.
Regulators are focusing on boosting medical cannabis patient care as the fight against the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Other New Measures
Among the improvements made is extending the time of day that medical marijuana dispensaries are available for delivery, which was previously limited from 11 AM to 7 PM.
The new measure allows for deliveries between 9 AM and 9 PM. This also includes the amount of vehicles cannabis businesses are allowed to use for deliveries, going from just one to three vehicles per shop.
ABRA stated that these measures have been taken due to the difficulties people faced during the coronavirus pandemic including those with pre-existing conditions whose recommended treatment is medical cannabis.
ABRA Grants Extension of Medical Marijuana Cards
The situation has proven challenging, which has prompted the ABRA to allow for more flexibility for the District residents’ medical needs.
“Thus, the Board finds that emergency action is necessary for the promotion of the health, safety, and welfare of District residents”, the notice states.
Other concessions made include granting patients and caregivers whose medical marijuana cards expired after March 11, an extra 45 days to renew their permits, once the city’s COVID-19 public health emergency ends.
People will also be allowed to work in cultivation facilities, dispensaries and testing labs for 45 days while employers review and asses their criminal backgrounds.
By the looks of the administration’s handle on the pandemic, it is likely that this won’t happen until sometime in 2021.
Washington’s Fight For Legalizing Recreational Cannabis
Washington holds a long history in the fight for legalization of cannabis. While recreational and possession of small amounts of the plant is allowed in many cities already, D.C. has only legalized medical marijuana so far.
Low-level possession and cultivation of marijuana is also allowed in the District, but up until now, this doesn’t include retail sale.
Therefore, the move to have ABRA oversee the medical cannabis program is believed to be one towards the eventual legalization of recreational marijuana in the capital.
Democrat-controlled House of Representatives likely to Pass Legislation on Marijuana
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser filed a bill last year to legalize retail marijuana sales in the District, as Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and the legislation seems more likely to pass.
This could also mean the revenue from retail sales could help the government muffle the economic losses faced during the pandemic.
Spikes on Legal Marijuana Sales All Over Washington
Regardless, it’s been reported that marijuana businesses all over the state of Washington have spiked during the past few months, as has been the case in several other states.
For instance, compared to last February, sales and corresponding tax revenues in D.C. went up to 28% in March alone. The increase was steady all through July and it was reported that legal marijuana sales went up to almost $130 million.
Records for medical marijuana sales and tax revenue are still unreported but compared to the same month last year, the increase was about 42% and local business owners continue to see spikes through September and coming into October.
These numbers are cohesive with sales rises all over the country where cannabis is legal in one form or another.