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First-ever cannabis tax-free holiday aims to boost sales at DC medical marijuana dispensaries

Zero taxes and free 2-year medical marijuana cards are available until April 24.

WASHINGTON — D.C. is kicking off its first-ever cannabis tax holiday. The 10-day-long tax break started April 15 and ends April 24th. Qualified patients, who see a doctor, can pick up their pot at a licensed medical marijuana dispensary tax-free.

The director of D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration made the announcement Tuesday at D.C.’s only licensed medical marijuana dispensary East of the River. 

Linda Mercado Greene opened Anacostia Organics in 2019 in the heart of downtown Anacostia, it also happens to be two blocks from her own home. 

“My research found that 25% of the medical cannabis cardholders lived in Wards 7 and 8 and they had no access to their medication in their own community,” said Greene, “I live in a community that was very much harmed on the war on drugs and that has an active open-air drug market. Since I opened, we’ve done a lot of education with ANC’s, churches and community organizations.”

There are now seven licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in the District. According to ABRA, the multi-million-dollar business is growing: serving more than 13,000 patients last month alone.  

“I have so many patients that come in and thank me for opening in their community a beautiful dispensary they can be proud of, but also giving them access to quality, inspected, lab-tested medicine,” said Greene.

But more business owners said their patients are leaving for unregulated shops that gift marijuana. Those shops use the law’s gifting provision to sell other items and then give away pot. Their customers don’t need to see a doctor or buy a membership card. Legislation to curb the gifting businesses through fines – failed in the DC council. 

RELATED: DC Council rejects proposal that would have cracked down 'gifting' marijuana sales

Now, the tax holiday helps remove some of those obstacles. If you're under the age of 65, you still need to see a doctor but for the next week, D.C. is dropping the 6% sales tax and those membership cards are free. 

“Previously the card was for one year at $100,” explained ABRA director Fred Moosally. “Now we’re giving a two-year card at no cost through April 24. The District is also home to one of the nation’s best reciprocity programs where cardholders from out of state can come to the District and buy.”

“I think D.C. is going to be the shining star on how to get this right in our country,” added Greene.

Though Congress has put a stop to recreational sales in D.C., Greene is optimistic about the future of cannabis in the Nation’s Capital. She said the tax holiday helps her mission of service and social equity. Greene chairs D.C.’s Cannabis Trade Association and is on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force for the U.S Cannabis Council. 

“I’ve seen people pass out and die because of stuff on the streets right here in my community,” she explained. “So it’s worth it because I’m all about serving and I’ve always been about serving.”

Click here to learn more about the tax free holiday or apply for a free medical marijuana card.

RELATED: DC Council, residents discuss legalizing marijuana sales in marathon meeting

RELATED: DC Council rejects proposal that would have cracked down 'gifting' marijuana sales

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