With Washington consumed by figuring out how to respond to the coronavirus, few lawmakers or their aides have time for anything else.
Cannabis lobbyists on Capitol Hill are changing strategies as lawmakers leave town and staffers work from home. Politico's Natalie Fertig reached out to a few lobbyists to hear what they expect as Washington enters an unprecedented new way of working for the foreseeable future. Here are the main takeaways:
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.
But finally, there’s progress. Today, the D.C. Department of Health is making applications available for prospective cultivation center operators. You can read the official notice in today’s DC Register. Only those who submitted the required letter of intent back in June will be able to apply. There were over 100 letters submitted by groups interested in operating cultivation centers, including Benjamin Bronfman, the fiancé of rapper M.I.A. of Paper Planes fame.
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.