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Washington D.C. Cannabis Bill Seeks To Expand Social Justice Reform

October 15, 2020

Washington D.C. councilman Robert White (D) has introduced a bill that seeks to expand D.C. social justice opportunities for individuals that were formerly incarcerated to participate in the legal medical marijuana market in the district. White stated that there is “no reason why those who’ve paid their debt to society should be blocked out of the industry any longer.” 

With other states like neighboring Virginia taking action towards cannabis reform, D.C. joins in a national movement seeking equity in the growing marijuana industry. 

Currently, those with felony convictions are banned from participating in the market in the district. In addition to ending this ban, the bill would establish two major programs intent on encouraging cannabis business ownership by returning citizens. 

D.C. Social Justice Program Details 

The first program would provide technical assistance with the application process, assistance in applying for required licensing, and an application fee waiver. This program would apply exclusively for businesses that are at least 51 percent owned by formerly incarcerated individuals. 

The second program that would be established by the bill offers assistance in raising capital for these businesses, and assistance in developing a business plan.

With the extra assistance offered by these D.C. social justice programs, the bill hopes to encourage formerly incarcerated individuals and those with felony records to contribute to the growing medical cannabis industry in the district. 

Proposal Hopes to Build On Current Momentum in D.C.

There have been several attempts in recent months by the District Council and regulations to expand upon the existing medical cannabis program in Washington D.C. In May, lawmakers approved a policy protecting local government employees to use authorized medical marijuana without fear of workplace discrimination. 

Additionally, with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, medical cannabis delivery services are set to be expanded. Registration cards and expiration dates will also be extended. 

Although it is unclear how White and his four co-sponsors will approach the new proposal, a commitment to equity for those returning to society appears to be strong among the District Council. 

Contributed by Jack Berning