Tag Archives: District of Columbia

Federal Bill Introduced to Increase Veterans’ Access to Medical Marijuana

Last week, a bipartisan bill that would allow doctors with the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana for certain patients was introduced in Congress.

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Rep. Earl Blumenauer

Under current policy, doctors and other specialists working with the VA are prohibited from recommending medical marijuana to any patient, despite growing evidence that it is useful in treating pain, traumatic brain injuries, and post-traumatic stress, even if a patient lives in one of the 23 states, Guam, or the District of Columbia where medical marijuana is legal.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) with the support of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access.

Michael Krawitz, executive director of Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access, said they “are very proud to stand by Congressman Blumenauer and support the Veterans Equal Access Act.”

“The Veterans Health Administration has made it very clear that, as federal employees, they lack the free speech necessary to write the recommendations for Veterans to comply with state programs,” said Krawitz. “This legislation is needed to correct that legal situation and repair this VA doctor patient relationship.”

The status quo has numerous harmful effects, said Blumenauer. “It forces veterans into the black market to self-medicate,” he said. “It prevents doctors from giving their best and honest advice and recommendations. And it pushes both doctors and their patients toward drugs that are potentially more harmful and more addictive. It’s insane, and it has to stop.”

D.C. Voters Legalize Marijuana For Adults 21 and Older!

By an overwhelming margin, D.C. voters approved Initiative 71, which will allow adults 21 and older to use, possess, and grow limited amounts of marijuana! The new law, which will not take effect until after it successfully clears a 30-day Congressional review period, legalizes limited possession and cultivation of marijuana by those 21 and older under D.C. law. Check out our summary here. Please note that it does nothing to change federal law, under which marijuana is still strictly prohibited.

So much gratitude is owed to the folks at the Yes on 71 campaign who worked tirelessly to get this initiative on the ballot and to ensure its success. Adam Eidinger, Nikolas Schiller, and their entire staff and volunteers, along with Dr. Malik Burnett and his colleagues from the Drug Policy Alliance, ran a smooth campaign focusing on the injustice of marijuana prohibition that clearly resonated with D.C. voters.

While there is much cause for celebration, passage of I-71 is just the first step. The law does not become operational unless and until it clears a 30-day Congressional review. This should happen sometime in February or March of 2015. In addition, the initiative does not create a legal, regulated market for marijuana. Please encourage your councilmembers to create such a system.

Thanks again to everyone who worked on this historic effort, and please make sure your friends and family in D.C. have heard the news!

Overwhelming Majority of Delaware Voters Support Making Marijuana Legal

A new poll conducted by the University of Delaware finds 56% support for legalizing marijuana, with just 39% opposed. Earlier this year, Rep. Helene Keeley, Sen. Bryan Townsend, and Sen. Margaret Rose Henry sponsored legislation to reduce the penalty for simple possession of marijuana from a criminal charge to a civil fine. This is a strong step in the right direction.

Under current Delaware law, possessing even a small amount of marijuana is a criminal offense, carrying up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,150. And the effects of a conviction don’t stop there. A criminal record can make it difficult to find a job, obtain educational opportunities, or even find adequate housing.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have replaced the threat of jail for possession of marijuana with a fine. If you are a Delaware resident, ask your state representative and senator to make the same modest reform, and then ask your fellow Delawareans to call for this long overdue reform, too.

Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia Next to Decide Marijuana Ballot Measures

According to a New York Times editorial, this November, voters in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia will decide whether to make recreational marijuana legal and regulated — effectively disregarding the misguided federal ban on a substance that is far less dangerous than alcohol.

Alaska’s Ballot Measure 2 would make the use and purchase of marijuana legal for those 21 and older, create a marijuana control board and tax the drug at $50 per ounce wholesale. It is already legal for Alaskans to possess small amounts of marijuana in their homes, and surveys indicate that 18 percent of Alaskans smoke marijuana. Ballot Measure 2 would mean that Alaskans could buy it from a store instead of resorting to the black market.

This is not the first time the newspaper of record has supported sensible marijuana policy reform, and it is indicative of increasing national support for ending marijuana prohibition.

D.C. Committee Votes To Seal Marijuana Possession Records

Last week, the D.C. Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety voted unanimously to support B20-467, legislation that would allow individuals to file a motion to seal records relating to offenses that were subsequently decriminalized or legalized. This would allow individuals who were arrested for simple possession of marijuana to have their records sealed. If Initiative 71 passes this November (and, with 65% support, it seems likely), this bill will allow even more individuals with nonviolent marijuana charges to have those sealed as well.

If you are a D.C. resident, please email your councilmember and urge him or her to support this bill. Enactment of B20-467 will help curtail the life-altering collateral consequences a marijuana arrest carries with it. Criminal records are often used to keep otherwise qualified candidates from obtaining employment or even housing. Please raise your voice so that District residents aren’t marked for life for having used a substance that most Americans believe should be legal.