WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Getting medical marijuana in Washington D.C. is now easier for residents thanks to an emergency bill passed earlier this week. Councilmembers are also hoping this will encourage District residents to visit regulated District dispensaries rather than potentially unregulated shops that also offer cannabis.

Jean-Paul Zephir, General Manager at KINFOLK Dispensary, one of the District’s seven licensed dispensaries says that this new bill will make legal and safe marijuana available to more people living in the District.

“Right now dropping barriers and allowing for immediate access is definitely one of the most important things for us,” Zephir said.

D.C. Residents no longer have to see a doctor or practitioner before receiving a medical marijuana card. Patients will soon be able to self-certify and bypass doctors altogether. Ward 3 councilmember Mary Cheh introduced the bill which has garnered unanimous support from the rest of the Council.

“They will self-certify under some form that the government will create to certify that in fact, they need medical marijuana for a medical purpose and that will be enough then they can go ahead and get it,” Cheh explained.

D.C. Council is hoping this move will encourage people to visit licensed dispensaries where certification is required.

“Everything that we sell is locally produced, locally grown. It’s 100% regulated, we get inspections, we get checked everything to make sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to do,” Zephir explained. “In which case, there isn’t really any of that in the gray market.”

The grey market Zephir is referring to are shops that are not licensed to sell marijuana but are legally dispensing it for free usually as gifts to customers who come in to buy non-cannabis merchandise. Most of them are black-owned businesses that are not part of the group of dispensaries that attract clients who had doctor certification.

The i-71 committee, a coalition of local cannabis shop owners and advocates, says they fully support the push to make medical cannabis more accessible especially to minorities and low-income residents. They released a statement that read in part:

“By removing this requirement and allowing patients to self-certify, the D.C. Council is demonstrating their commitment to building a more equitable world where cannabis prohibition is a thing of the past.”

While this bill opens the door for more residents, one cannabis user says he still won’t go to a state-certified dispensary.

“I’d rather do that than go to a medical dispensary because that’s too akin to a hospital or a pharmacy and I don’t play those games. I don’t step in those places. I don’t like it,” Kevin Lance Murray, a local cannabis user, explained. “I am excited to spend my hard-earned money at the local gift shops and support black businesses.”

This emergency bill has not yet been put into effect as Mayor Muriel Bowser has yet to sign it. While she has voiced her support to the council, the bill has not yet reached her desk. When Mayor Bowser does put pen to paper, the bill will go into effect for 90 days while D.C. Council tries to move a more permanent bill through to Congress.