Medical marijuana is now legal in the District after the Democrat-controlled Congress declined to overrule a D.C Council bill that allows the city to set up as many as eight dispensaries where chronically ill patients can purchase the drug.
Although the bill has now cleared Congress, patients will likely have to wait at least several months before they can obtain the drug from a city-sanctioned dispensary.
The law allows patients with cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS and other chronic ailments can possess up to four ounces of the drug.
Patients will not be allowed to grow their own marijuana, but licensed companies will be able to sell the drug to people who first obtain a doctor’s prescription.
After a dozen years of Congressional obstruction, the will of 69% of the voters who passed Washington DC Initiative 59 shall be implemented.
(Initiative 59) Sec. 5 (a) Any District law prohibiting the possession of marijuana or cultivation of marijuana shall not apply to a medical patient, or to a medical patient’s primary caregivers, when a medical or primary caregiver possesses or cultivates marijuana for the medical purposes of the patient upon the written or oral recommendation of a licensed physician. The exemption for cultivation shall apply only to marijuana specifically grown to provide a medical supply for a patient, and not to any marijuana grown for any other purpose. In determining a quantity of marijuana that constitutes a medical supply, this act shall be interpreted to assure that any medical patient protected by the act shall have access to a sufficient quantity of marijuana to assure that they can maintain their medical supply without any interruption in their treatment or depletion of their medical supply of marijuana.
Gosh, that seems to me like that 69% of the voters didn’t vote for “Patients will not be allowed to grow their own marijuana”. Looks like they voted not only to let patients grow their own, but they can keep as much as necessary to never run out! In fact, the voters of DC approved a medical marijuana law that is far more liberal than California’s Prop 215, including such gems as:
- It has the California-style leniency on trusting doctors to recommend marijuana for almost anything if they believe it is useful (“other serious or chronic illnesses for which the recommending physician reasonably believes that marijuana has demonstrated utility.”
- You could argue the act might protect patients from being fired (or “sanctioned”) for medical marijuana use (“in so far as they comply with this act, are not subject to criminal prosecution or sanction.”)
- District residents can open non-profit dispensaries with explicit right to sell (“Residents of the District of Columbia may organize and operate not-for-profit corporations for the purpose of cultivating, purchasing, and distributing marijuana”) – that doesn’t sound like “licensed companies”, as in “the District decides who can be a dispensary.” Sounds like the People decide.
- The District Health Director has to come up with a way to get medical marijuana to residents on Medicaid (“provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients enrolled in Medicaid or a Ryan White CARE Act funded program who are in medical need, who desire to add marijuana to their health care regimen”)
So how did “patients can grow as much as they need and residents can open dispensaries” turn into “patients get to buy four ounces from a city-licensed dispensary?” To summarize, in the highest-ever vote in support of medical marijuana, 69%, back in 1998 when only California had it, the District of Columbia passed a medical marijuana bill more liberal than California’s. But in 2010, they get a law only slightly less restrictive than New Jersey’s.
But hey, they don’t even get a vote in Congress, so why should we bother with what the people of DC want, anyway?