The evolving cannabis landscape in the U.S. shows a progressive movement toward acceptance, more free of legal restrictions. The American 4/20 holiday, stemming from the cannabis culture slang marijuana consumption, particularly around 4:20 p.m., is a day for smokers to celebrate their love and advocate for this flower. With many states decreasing their restrictions on cannabis use, leaders in Washington, D.C., are taking action that furthers this yearly-recognized holiday. 

This month, D.C. leaders voted unanimously for the approval of legislation that would suspend taxes on medical marijuana around the 4/20 cannabis celebration. Leaders hope that the approval of this legislation would help “the District’s effort to attract qualifying patients back to the legal market as well as a sustainable and viable medical cannabis program,” said Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie (I), who introduced the measure on behalf of Mayor Muriel Bowser (D).

This tax holiday spans marijuana purchases from April 15 through April 28, and extends the period of validity for medical marijuana patient and caregiver registration cards for six years. This news was clarified by the Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Administration (ABCA) which has the power to close down unlicensed and unregulated retailers. The ABCA reported that this legislation allows them to “summarily close an unlicensed retailer where the continued operations of the unlicensed retailer present an imminent danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the public,” according to a letter to the council from Bowser.

The Council also adjusted the language in this amendment, unanimously ensuring that the ABCA is authorized to investigate licensed medical marijuana businesses and hopes that this legislation will encourage marijuana patients to stay within the D.C. area of regulated medical marijuana.

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Demonstrating that they support the medical marijuana industry, D.C. leaders further took action on a number of other cannabis-related proposals, suggesting a dispensary buffer zone around schools in commercial and industrial areas. In a separate action, the Council rejected a proposal that would have adjusted the laws around medical marijuana dispensaries near schools, with members considering extending the District’s cannabis enforcement authority – with their actions demonstrating a concern for the safety of today’s youth while wanting to ensure medical marijuana users are recognized.

But other Council members also recognize the challenges for medical marijuana dispensaries in finding feasible locations in the nation’s capital. Currently, retailers must already be 300 feet from schools and recreation centers, exempting certain medical retailers from this requirement if they are already located in a commercial or industrial zone. However, the proposed emergency legislation would remove this exception, prohibiting medical marijuana retailers from being within 300 feet, affecting two pending medical dispensary license applications. 

This emergency legislation did not have all leaders on board, with McDuffie stating that he could not support this bill. The Council member further explained that, “It is tough work to find a location… [D.C. real estate] is not readily accessible when it comes to what they are required to use and the restrictions we put on them in terms of where they can locate. So I can’t support this.”

Yet, with state and federal laws reflecting mixed approvals on cannabis regulations, this tax holiday approval is one step forward for medical marijuana users.