D.C. Medical Marijuana Law Clears Congressional Hurdle!

Jul 27, 2010 , , , , ,

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.

18 responses to “D.C. Medical Marijuana Law Clears Congressional Hurdle!”

  1. I’m sure that the DEA is all upset about this. Soon the unconstitutional “Control Substance Act of 1970” and the illegal existence of the DEA will end as a historic blunder caused by the former president Nixon. The job will go back to the real federal police, the FBI, the way it should have been.

  2. This is great news! Let’s take five minutes (right now, while we’re thinking about it?) to express our appreciation for this great step!

    We can drop your Congresspersons a not of appreciation at
    (you can pick your state from the map or list and it will take you to the Congresspersons from your state)

    You can also send a note of appreciation to your two Senators at
    (You just type your state name into the box and it will give you a connection to each of your two Senators)

    Let’s give some positive feedback to the people who are REALLY in the position to make a difference; hearing from a LOT of citizens can really count!

  3. Yeah, yeah, we’re always happy when pot policies are liberalized. But I’m a DC resident, and I’m no longer interested in medical MJ. Who cares? Maybe 1% of all pot users are smoking for medicinal purposes, and that’s generous. What about the other 99% We need full legalization, and we need it now! And if you haven’t read Nate Silver’s recent analysis of Prop 19 polling over at 538, you need to do so now! Prop 19 will crack 60% at the ballot box, I’m sure of it.

  4. Okay, now I’m being geeky and replying to my own posting, but if anybody would like to use it as a starting point, here’s what I just sent my two Senators and my Congressperson (with a little tweaking to personalize it to each of them):

    Dear Senator / or Congressman / or Congresswoman XXXXX:

    Thank you so much for permitting the citizens of Washington DC to choose for themselves the option of using medical marijuana, for those citizens who can benefit from this product. I understand that for several years, Congress had prevented the citizens of DC from implementing their earlier vote on this matter, and I appreciate that you and your colleagues have had the courage to allow them to take this important step. It would have been easy for Congress to prevent this in order to “look tough on drugs,” and I am really pleased that you and your colleagues have chosen to allow ordinary Americans to have access to this helpful herbal remedy.

    Thank you also for all that you do to keep us safe and strong; I will remember in November!


  5. Yes, Ben, full legalization is the goal. One way to get there is to let elected officials know that we are glad to see them take steps in the right direction. They’re going to hear from the other side, so let’s let them hear from this side as well (and something to make them ENJOY hearing from us; “You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” as an earlier generation used to say.)

  6. I 2nd that Ben , I can’t help but feel that mmj is the wrong way to go, some would disagree , I know I won’t beable to qualifie for mmj so for me it dosen’t get me excited to hear about it. GO PROP 19

  7. I am working with the New Mexico branch of NORML. Please, if you are a serious advocate for marijuana law reform, harm reduction, drug policy reform, etc… then PLEASE copy my email :


    I am seeking to connect with as MANY like minded activist AS IS HUMANLY POSSIBLE.

    with a stronger network, we can ALL make a greater impact overall.

    peace and one love.

    bless up the Ganja..

  8. I’m all for full legalization of marijuana. I’m an “active AVM/hemiplegic/mildly aphasic” who has used it legally in CA. See my email to President Obama a few days ago:
    Legalize marijuana federally for all! Doing so will balance budgets and employ very many folks without importing anything. It will free up law enforcement, the judiciary and the penal system to a never before seen degree. Apply similar legal requirements as w/ alcohol. It doesn’t transform folks into ____, though, the way alcohol does sometimes. I know you agree. It’s so damned pleasant! It’s the answer to a chunk of our problems.
    It goes without saying but I’ll do so never-the-less, “Please withdraw Leonhart nomination” in the words of the MPP.

  9. I’ve really enjoyed marijuana being seen as a respectful medicine, and I’m also for Proposition 19. Do you know that the word “Proposition 19” sounds like a breakfast cereal?

  10. “[P]atients will not be allowed to grow their own medicine” is not what 69% of the DC voters passed. What they passed (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/longterm/library/dcelections/races/dcq59.htm) was:

    “Any District law prohibiting the possession of marijuana or cultivation of marijuana shall not apply to a medical patient…”

    They didn’t vote for “safe access to (four ounces of) medical marijuana through a system of licensed dispensaries”. What they passed was:

    “[Cultivation of] a sufficient quantity of marijuana to assure that they can maintain their medical supply without any interruption…”
    “Residents of the District of Columbia may organize and operate not-for-profit corporations for the purpose of cultivating, purchasing, and distributing marijuana”

    I’m thrilled for DC’s patients, but I’m saddened to see the last two medical marijuana laws (NJ & DC) taking away that crucial right to home grow that protects patients on a fixed income from $15 gram and $300 ounce pricing.

    And here comes AZ in 2010, with the “25-mile halo” that will forbid urban patients from growing their own. (If you live within 25 miles of a dispensary, you must shop there and cannot grow your own. This is necessary to “make dispensaries viable”, because otherwise, they could become the first sellers of marijuana in history to have trouble doing business.)

    So 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?

  11. I know you guys object to the sales tax and I appreciate the argument. Medicine after all should NOT be subject to a tax…

    HOWEVER… In the United States MONEY TALKS.

    When Maryland and Virginia start to marinate on the increased revenue DC will derive from marijuana sales they’ll quickly follow suit.

    I’d respectfully suggest that marijuana supporters should absolutely promote and encourage a sales tax at this point in order grease the wheels of change.

    LATER that can be revisited. But right now we need to legalize it, not at any cost mind you.. but 6% aint worth dying for.

  12. Its so stupid that people have to waste their time to legalize marijuana it should have never been outlawed it ridiculous.

  13. It saddens me also that the sick cann’t grow their own , but in some states the sick that are on a limited income are also seelling their meds in order to help them have a qaulity life. If we could also reform SSD and medicare we could prevent this by a persentage. Legalize the drug collect taxes and reform SSD and medicare along with state health & welfare and many more prodjects ! Let life be good to all….

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