Monko CEO Weighs In On Possible Lifting Of D.C. Weed Sales Ban

The Washington, D.C. cannabis market is strange, to say the least. Even though possession of recreational marijuana has been legal there since 2013, commercial sales is prohibited thanks to a longstanding rider blocking D.C. from implementing an active adult-use cannabis market. Instead of selling cannabis in the traditional manner, vendors had to settle for “gifting” customers with a free marijuana product provided they bought a non-cannabis-related item, good or service in the process. According to D.C laws, this is called being “I-71 compliant.”

However, medical marijuana was not affected by the rider and as a result, a local bill was passed in late 2022 that allowed I-71 businesses to apply to become medical dispensaries. Conversely, the adult-use marijuana market seemed to be in a stalemate until last week when a GOP House Committee released the draft of a budget bill that did not contain the notorious rider inserted by Republican Maryland Congressman Andy Harris.

The removal of the rider is probably linked to the Biden administration’s move to reschedule cannabis from a Schedule 1 narcotic to a Schedule 3 substance, putting it in the same league with anabolic steroids versus heroin.

Though it’s not a certainty that the removal will remain, the omission is an auspicious sign for the the D.C. commercial cannabis market, one that is avidly embraced by local entrepreneurs, most notably Terrence White, CEO of Monko, a luxury cannabis brand. As White explained, operating a cannabis gifting business in D.C. has been a formidable challenge. For this reason, he was especially gratified when his business received a conditional medical license, solidifying its path to the medical market.

But now, with the potential removal of the rider, the stakes could change for the better. This would be a turning point for the market, having lasting repercussions for entrepreneurs like White.

“D.C. would be a large emerging market at the same level as Maryland,” said White, casting his forecast on what could unfold for the market. “If it happens, I anticipate the district will move quickly to set up a proper regulatory framework and licensing process for retail dispensaries. This would provide a more stable, transparent environment for cannabis businesses to operate in.”

The removal of the rider “would unleash the potential of D.C.’s cannabis market, bringing it more in line with other legal states,” continued White. “We deserve the right to operate as Maryland does and reap the same benefits. Tax revenue could be collected to fund local needs. While nothing is guaranteed until it happens, removing the rider would be a landmark moment we’re all closely watching for and hoping becomes reality.”

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