A bill was introduced this month by five Washington D.C. council members that would take steps towards allowing citizens with a felony conviction or misdemeanor marijuana offense to work in the medical marijuana industry.

The bill would seek to change the stipulation in the D.C. Code and would repeal a section of the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1999 that prevents anyone with a felony conviction or misdemeanor marijuana offense from being an employee, director, agent, or member of a medical dispensary or cultivation center.

Additionally the bill proposes the creation of a program that provides incentives for residents applying for licenses to start dispensaries, cultivation centers, and cannabis testing labs that are more than 50% owned by returning citizens.

The bill was co-introduced by At-Large Councilmember David Grosso, Ward 7’s Vincent Gray, Ward 1’s Brianne Nadeau, and Ward 8’s Trayon White. The Council’s Committee on Business and Economic Development will review the bill sometime this month.

“When the District first enacted this prohibition, it was in part out of concern that allowing returning citizens to participate might invite federal intervention. These concerns were understandable at the time, but the expansion of this industry across the country and changing perceptions of the use of medical cannabis has made that concern obsolete,” councilmember Robert White said in an emailed statement to dcist.

“The District cannot continue to bar returning citizens from an industry that offers good paying local jobs.”

He tweeted, “This week I’m introducing a bill to repeal the prohibition on returning citizens working in the #Cannabis Industry. There is no reason why those who’ve paid their debt to society should be locked out of this industry any longer.”

“Many residents who have returned home are focused on being productive members of our city, but face significant barriers, which is why I also included a social equity component in the bill,” White wrote in a statement. “Specifically, the legislation would waive application fees and provide technical assistance to assist returning citizens in competing for medical cannabis licenses when additional licenses become available.”

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