D.C. leaders have passed emergency legislation that allows adults to buy medical marijuana without first seeing a doctor.
The D.C. Council approved the measure on Tuesday, and residents could have the ability to "self-certify" themselves for medical cannabis as soon as next week.
Since D.C. legalized medical marijuana in 2010, patients have had to get a doctor's recommendation and a medical marijuana card in order to legally purchase marijuana. The government-issued card costs as much as $100 every two years.
Medical marijuana dispensary owners have complained about losing customers because of the process and competition from stores that operate in a gray area of the law. Such stores "gift" marijuana to customers who buy items such as shirts, artwork or music downloads.
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The emergency legislation will allow residents 21 and older to sign a form that states they have a medical need for marijuana.
"It's going to help us survive. We're very excited about it," Anacostia Organics owner Linda Green said.
Green said she saw a big impact when seniors 65 and older were allowed to sign such forms earlier this year.
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"Particularly here in my community, in Ward 8, we saw a huge increase," she said.
Similar legislation failed to pass in April because it included harsh penalties for the stores that gift marijuana.
D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson said he will try to get those penalties approved later this year.
"The reality is there’s an illegal business that’s thriving and growing, and we need to put a stop to that," Mendelson said.
While D.C. does accept medical marijuana cards from other states, only the city's residents can self-certify. Patients from other states must still have a card to buy at D.C. dispensaries.
A spokesperson for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she will sign the legislation as soon as it hits her desk.