Three out of four Washington, D.C. voters would support changing District law to replace criminal penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket, according to a survey conducted last week by Public Policy Polling. Two-thirds (67%) said they believe law enforcement resources currently being used by District police to arrest individuals for marijuana possession should be directed toward other crimes.
The poll also found that nearly two-thirds (63%) of District voters would support a ballot measure similar to those approved by voters in Colorado and Washington in November, which made marijuana legal for adults and directed state officials to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. A solid majority (54%) said drug use should be treated as a public health issue, and people should no longer be arrested and locked up for possession of a small amount of any drug for personal use.
The survey of 1,621 randomly selected District voters was conducted April 10-11. The full results and crosstabs are available at http://www.mpp.org/DCpoll.
Perhaps. (Nevertheless, it is worth noting that both the Seahawks and the Denver Broncos have yet to lose a game at home since their respective states made marijuana legal.)
But we have to wonder why the NFL continues to prohibit marijuana use by players during the off-season, even in states that have made it legal, while simultaneously promoting alcohol use at every game. Moreover, the league continues to prohibit players in those states from using marijuana for medical purposes, despite its proven ability to ease chronic pain – a condition that affects many players.
Perhaps allowing professional athletes to make the choice to use marijuana instead of painkillers could make a difference in their performances. And so could allowing them to use marijuana instead of alcohol when they are relaxing or socializing with friends. Regardless, it is bad policy to continue punishing these athletes simply for making a safer choice.
It’s now been almost 13 years since nearly 70% of D.C. voters approved an initiative enacting a medical marijuana law in the nation’s capital, though you’d be forgiven if you hadn’t noticed. An obscure budget provision known as the “Barr Amendment” stalled implementation for years, and when it was finally removed (after MPP hired Congressman Barr to help defeat his own amendment) in late 2009, the D.C. Council went to work passing an amendment to the law making the proposed program much more restrictive. Since then, the glacial pace of implementation has kept medicine from patients for another year.
Today’s notice applies only to cultivation centers, not dispensaries, so advocates will have to wait a little longer for those. There’s also no word on when patients will be able to apply to the program. Still, it’s progress.
Washington, D.C.’s medical marijuana law cleared a mandatory 30-day Congressional review period Monday night, after Congress declined to take action against a D.C. Council bill that allows the District to license between five and eight medical marijuana dispensaries. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton made the announcement on Tuesday. The District will join 14 states across the country in having effective medical marijuana laws.
This historic development comes almost 12 years after 69 percent of District voters approved a referendum on medical marijuana in 1998. Congress had blocked the law’s implementation until last year. Now the District Department of Health and Mayor Adrian Fenty are tasked with developing a set of regulations for dispensaries that will be licensed to distribute medical marijuana to qualified patients. Medical marijuana is not fully legal yet, as the new law allows qualified patients to legally possess marijuana only if it comes from a licensed dispensary.
“After thwarting the will of District voters for more than a decade, Congress is no longer standing in the way of effective relief for D.C. residents who struggle with chronic ailments,” MPP executive director Rob Kampia said in a press release. “This moment is a long overdue victory for both D.C. home rule and the wellbeing of District residents whose doctors believe medical marijuana can help ease their pain.”
Under the bill, patients who are suffering from chronic conditions including HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis, and receive a recommendation from their doctor will be able to obtain safe access to medical marijuana through a system of licensed dispensaries. A task force will be charged with, among other things, recommending additional conditions, such as PTSD or severe, chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions. Unlike the laws in 13 out of 14 medical marijuana states, patients will not be allowed to grow their own medicine, though the task force will also examine the issue of home cultivation. Medical marijuana will be subject to the city’s 6 percent sales tax.
Today, by a unanimous vote, the D.C. Council approved amendments to a medical marijuana law first passed in 1998 by 69 percent of District voters. Congress had blocked implementation of Initiative 59 for more than a decade, until it lifted its ban last year.
Mayor Adrian Fenty is expected to sign the bill, at which point Congress will have 30 days to review before it becomes law. Once that happens, the District of Columbia will join 14 states across the country in allowing qualified patients to use medical marijuana without fear of arrest.
This is a landmark victory for the nation’s capital and the potentially thousands of District residents who will benefit from safe and legal access to medical marijuana.