What Is a Medical Cannabis Retailer in Washington DC?
A medical cannabis retailer in Washington DC is a business or organization registered with the Mayor of the District from or at which medical marijuana is possessed and dispensed and marijuana paraphernalia is distributed to qualifying patients and caregivers. A medical cannabis retailer with a valid delivery endorsement is also allowed to deliver medical cannabis and medical cannabis products to the residential addresses of qualifying patients and their caregivers.
Does Washington DC License Medical Cannabis Retailers?
Yes, according to the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Amendment Act of 2010, a dispensary must obtain a medical cannabis retailer license to dispense medical marijuana to eligible patients and approved caregivers legally. The license also permits medical cannabis retailers to manufacture, purchase, and sell marijuana paraphernalia.
How to Get a Medical Cannabis Retailer License in Washington DC
Specific eligibility requirements exist for persons looking to apply for a medical cannabis retailer license in Washington DC. These include the following:
- The applicant must be of good character and fit the responsibilities of licensure
- The applicant must not be a licensed authorized practitioner making patient recommendations
- The applicant must be current on all tax filings and not owe the District more than $100
- The applicant must have paid the annual fee and be either a for-profit or non-profit corporation incorporated in DC
- The applicant must be aged 21 or older
- The applicant must not have been convicted of a felony for a crime pertaining to violence, tax evasion, fraud, gun offense, or credit card fraud within the last 3 years. Note that except for social equity applicants, an applicant’s criminal background check information will not be due to or considered by the Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Administration (ABCA) until ABCA has otherwise determined that the applicant is qualified and ready for license acceptance
- The applicant must not be a licensed authorized practitioner making patient recommendations
- The applicant must not be a person whose authority to be a qualifying patient or caregiver has been revoked by the Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Board
- The applicant must have complied with all requirements of the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Act of 1999 and Title 22-C of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations
After ensuring all eligibility requirements are fulfilled, the applicant must prepare the application in line with the application criteria. These include:
- Zoning Compliance: The applicant must provide evidence that the proposed location to be used as a retailer is not located within a residential district or within 300 feet of a school, recreation center or that the nearest property line or the main entrance of the school or recreational facility is zoned as commercial or industrial. The submission must include a certified surveyor’s report or a detailed Geographic Information Systems (GIS) map requested from ABCA. To request a GIS map, email ABCA.firstname.lastname@example.org. Include “GIS Map Request for Medical Cannabis Facility Application” in the subject line.
- Zoning Determination: The applicant must provide a valid zoning determination letter from the Zoning Administrator indicating that a retailer can operate at the premises where the applicant intends to be located. An applicant must provide a certificate of occupancy issued for the building in which the licensed premises will be located
- Lease or Purchase Letter: The applicant must provide a valid written lease, intent to lease, or agreement to purchase or otherwise occupy all or a portion of the building for the applicant's use in carrying on the business of a retailer
- Business License Application: The applicant must provide a completed Medical Cannabis Business License Application
- Attestation Form: The applicant must provide a signed and notarized Medical Cannabis Facility Applicant Acknowledgment and Attestation Form
- Social Equity Applicant: If a social equity applicant, the applicant must provide documentation showing they qualify as a social equity applicant. To qualify as a social equity applicant, an applicant must meet 2 or more of the criteria outlined in D.C. Official Code § 7-1671.01(20C) and satisfy the requirements of D.C. Official Code § 7-1671.06(g)(1). The applicant must provide both the notarized medical cannabis facility applicant social equity declaration form and a social equity applicant attestation statement
- Medical Cannabis Certified Business Enterprise: If applicable, the applicant must provide documentation that the applicant is registered as a medical cannabis CBE by the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD). To qualify as a medical cannabis CBE, an applicant is required to meet all of the criteria outlined in D.C. Official Code § 7-1671.01(12A) and § 7-1671.06(g)(2). The applicant must also provide (1) the notarized Annual Personal Net Income Attestation Form attesting that the annual personal net income of each owner does not exceed $349,999, (2) the Medical Cannabis Certified Business Enterprise Declaration Form, and (3) a Medical Cannabis CBE Applicant Attestation Statement (Attestation Statement).
- Submit all Required Documents: The applicant is required to submit all the documents included in the Medical Cannabis Business License Application Checklist
- Submit a Security Plan: The plan must address the following elements:
- Evidence that the space will comply with all security system requirements outlined in Title 22-C of the regulations
- A site plan detailing the entire structure the business is housed in, including the streets, parking lots, other tenants within the facility, and any other entities that physically border the retailer’s proposed location
- A floor plan of the business detailing the location of the following:
- All entrances and exits to the retailer's business
- The location of all cameras and their field of view
- The location of any skylights, windows, and roof hatches
- The location of all alarm inputs (motion detectors, door contacts, duress or hold-up devices) and alarm sirens
- The location of the video recorder and alarm control panel
- Restricted and public areas
- The form of security training provided for and completed by establishment personnel, including:
- Procedures for handling violent incidents, other emergencies, and calling MPD
- The number and location of cameras used by the establishment
- Security measures taken by the applicant to prevent individuals from entering the limited access area portion of the licensed premises
- The applicant's closing processes after the cessation of business each day
- The applicant's plan to prevent theft or the diversion of medical cannabis, including maintaining all medical cannabis in a secure, locked room that is accessible only to authorized persons
- The type of security or alarm system and outdoor lighting to be used by the applicant
All applications must be legibly typed, preferably in a 12-point font. The application must be filed in its entirety in hard copy or electronically. If done electronically, all items must be combined into 1 PDF document. Electronic submissions for the medical cannabis retailer license application can be made to ABCA.email@example.com. To submit an application by mail, send your application to:
Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Administration
2000, 14th Street NW
Suite 400 South
Washington DC 2009
Per the regulations, if an applicant fails to address all required documents and plans, the application will be considered non-responsive and not accepted by ABCA. For more information on applying for a medical cannabis retailer license in Washington DC, write to ABCA.CannabisLicensing@dc.gov or see the application instructions provided on the ABCA website.
How Much Does a Medical Cannabis Retailer License Cost in Washington DC?
Applicants must pay a non-refundable application fee as part of their medical cannabis retailer license application submission. The application fee for a standard retailer application is $8,000.00. The application fee for a social equity retailer applicant is $2,000.00.
The following are the accepted methods of payment by application submission:
- Mail: The applicant must include their application, a check (note that starter checks are not accepted), a money order, or cashier's check made payable to “DC Treasurer” or request a payment link by emailing ABCA.CannabisLicensing@dc.gov
- In-Person: The applicant must include with their application a check (starter checks are not accepted), money order, or cashier’s check made payable to “DC Treasurer” or present a credit card to an ABCA contact representative upon submission
- Electronic: The applicant may pay online, by mail, or in-person as indicated above. To request a payment link, email ABCA.CannabisLicensing@dc.gov
Note that payment by phone and cash are not accepted. All costs involved in the application preparation and submission are the applicant's responsibility. ABCA is not responsible for any costs incurred by an applicant in preparing or submitting an application. Medical cannabis retailer license applicants must also pay their annual fee for the first year within 60 calendar days of ABC Board approval but before license issuance. The annual fee for a standard retailer license is $16,000.00. The annual fee for a social equity retailer license is $4,000.00 for the first three years.
Can Medical Cannabis Retailer Licensees Hold Other Cannabis Licenses in Washington DC?
A medical cannabis retailer is permitted to deliver medical marijuana and medical marijuana products to qualifying patients and their caregivers with a delivery endorsement. Hence, a retailer can also hold a delivery endorsement issued by the ABCA. A medical cannabis retailer is also permitted to obtain a:
- Safe-use treatment facility endorsement;
- Summer garden endorsement; and
- Education tasting endorsement
Note that per ABCA rules, a medical cannabis retailer licensee may not hold an interest in a testing laboratory or courier license.