washington dc

How Many Social Equity Cannabis Business Licenses Has Washington D.C. Issued?

Washington D.C. is a unique place for cannabis public policy and industry. Local lawmakers approved a medical cannabis legalization measure in Washington D.C. in May 2010. A component of the 2010 measure allowed the launch of eight initial medical cannabis dispensaries in the D.C. area.

In January 2023, the Medical Cannabis Amendment Act of 2022 became effective. The measure overhauled Washington D.C.’s medical cannabis program, making the program more accessible to patients. The Medical Cannabis Amendment Act of 2022 came roughly 8 years after voters in Washington D.C. approved an adult-use legalization measure.

Since 2014, unregulated adult-use cannabis sales have proliferated the D.C. area, however, all adult-use sales remain prohibited in D.C., and the only legal outlets from which patients can acquire medical cannabis is through licensed medical cannabis dispensaries. Congress controls whether or not D.C.’s market can sell adult-use cannabis products, and so far Congress has refrained from granting such permission.

The Medical Cannabis Amendment Act of 2022 provided for three rounds of medical cannabis business license issuances, with 50% of licenses reserved for social equity applicants. The first round of licensing was for unlicensed operators, the second for social equity applicants, and a third for standard retail applicants. The first two rounds were already completed, and the third round will be underway in July.

During the social equity cannabis business license round, which ended in March, over 250 applicants submitted social equity applications. Of those, 33 brick and mortar retailers and two internet retailers were approved, and the remaining applications are reportedly still being processed.

According to the D.C. Alcohol Beverage and Cannabis Administration, starting in July, there will only be 33 retail licenses and two internet licenses available for non-social equity applicants.

As of March 2024, the Washington D.C. medical cannabis program had 25,463 unique patients enrolled in the program. Additionally, the program had 71 unique caregivers enrolled in the Washington D.C. medical cannabis program.

In-store medical cannabis sales reached $1,451,943 in March 2024, up from $1,377,309 the prior month. In addition to in-store sales figures in March, licensed medical cannabis delivery services sold $179,656 in March 2024.