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Medical Marijuana: Congress Finally Lets District of Columbia Go for It

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #613)

Eleven years after District of Columbia voters approved a medical marijuana initiative with 69% of the vote, Congress has finally stepped aside and will allow DC to implement the will of the people. The US Senate Sunday vote to approve the omnibus appropriations bill was the final step in removing language by former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) from the DC appropriations bill that had barred the District from implementing the results of the 1998 vote. President Obama signed the bill into law Wednesday.

Bob Barr, lobbied to repeal anti-medical marijuana legislation he wrote
DC will shortly join the 13 states that currently have medical marijuana laws. But unlike some states that have joined the ranks more recently, the language of the DC initiative is relatively loose. It allows "all seriously ill individuals... to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes when a licensed physician has found the use of marijuana to be medically necessary."

The measure allows patients or up to four caregivers to grow, buy, and possess marijuana for medicinal use. It also permits the establishment of nonprofit dispensaries and orders DC health officials to devise a plan to distribute marijuana to patients.

DC officials say they want to move quickly to set up regulations. DC Council Chairman Vincent Gray (D) told the Washington Post Monday that after more than a decade, this was no time for delay. "We've waited 10 years. I think the opportunity to send it is now," Gray said. "There is no reason to sit on it."

DC Attorney General Peter Nickles, however, throw up a couple of potential roadblocks. He told the Post he has instructed his staff to determine whether the initiative language is too dated to stand up to legal challenge. He also warned that the initiative would have to survive a 30-day congressional review period because the original measure had never been sent to Congress.

But DC non-voting congressional delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), told the Post the measure did not need further congressional review. "Congress thought they were simply taking the ban off and the District would simply proceed or not proceed," Norton said. "After all we have gone through, I can tell you, the Congress is not anxious to see this issue here again. It's taken me 10 years."

It's not just DC bureaucrats who are scrambling. Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws told the Post he has been fielding numerous enquiries from would-be DC medical marijuana businessmen. "There are probably at least 20 of these cannabis shop owners on the West Coast that have a dead-eye target on the District," St. Pierre said. "Over the weekend, we must have gotten 20 to 30 e-mails or phone messages from people I would say are entrepreneurs."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


jnos39 (not verified)

It's good to see that the people are getting what they finally asked for. Now lets see if we can get the Federal Medical Marijuana Program open again.

Fri, 12/18/2009 - 6:30pm Permalink
Brinna (not verified)

I can't think of anything better for the cause of ending the prohibition of cannabis than for members of Congress to be exposed to, on a daily basis, patients who legally use medicinal cannabis.

A. Members of Congress will be forced to regard users of cannabis as human. (Yes, they always were human-- but it is hard to demonize little old ladies who use cannabis to ease their arthritis, particularly when you bump into them in the Halls of Congress).
B. Members of Congress get sick too, and are looking for solutions to their own problems.
C. Members of Congress and their families will be able to legally use medical cannabis, at least while residing Washington, D.C.
D. After all is said and done, Medical Cannabis Will Be Legal in the Nation's Capitol! Who would have thunk it?

I believe this one implementation will do more to move hearts and minds of prohibitionists than we can ever imagine.

Sat, 12/19/2009 - 12:25am Permalink
maxwood (not verified)

Wouldn't medical cannabis get a little more respect if patients brandished rational, safe, medical-looking serving utensils? (You don't want to be seen sucking on a harsh hot-burning fatspliff with wastesmoke gushing out between coughtokes.)

If patients put out $600 for a Volcano vaporizer, they have a well-publicized NORML endorsement going for them. (Tell St. Peter to distribute a gold-bordered authorization certificate for physicians to sign.)

A THC-e-cigarette (with dignified iatrogenic carrying case) can be carried right in to show to your Congressbody in his/her office.

Or if you must "smoke" (learn the slow-suck, semivaporizing technique) you can make an ornate devotional-looking long-stemmed chillum ("chalice") out of an engraved/enameled piece of wood or cowhorn (cuernavaca), a quarter-inch-caliber socket wrench or hose nipple, a pre-shaped screen and a long flexible drawtube.

Sat, 12/19/2009 - 1:04pm Permalink

I agree that smoking "spliffs" is probably not the ideal method of marijuana consumption. That being said, you seem to be a little obsessed with telling people how to smoke. Smoking out of wood sucks, I can't even imagine how it is out of "cow horn"... nasty. And what's with that ghetto socket pipe you keep recommending?You might want to consider cutting back a little on your own personal consumption, coming up with spaced-out stuff like this...

Mon, 12/21/2009 - 8:21pm Permalink
mlang52 (not verified)

In reply to by ZMiller (not verified)

Mr Miller,

I guess you don't understand that one method, of smoking, is for decreasing the chance of being caught with paraphernalia and getting busted. Just, put the socket back in your tool set and keep on truckin'! It is a lot cheaper than the $600 volcano, if the cops decide to confiscate it!. Then again, the socket would also be a lot harder to spot than the volcano! (deep well sockets work best) But, I would prefer to be able to use a nebulizer, myself! Smokeless has to be the best way!

Otherwise, you sound pompous. Our world is way too full of that type of people. Ease up, man!

Tue, 12/22/2009 - 5:42pm Permalink

OK.  Proposition 19 was phrased as cannabis not {m word}.  28.5 grams will be an ounce..

4 ounces a month will be one ounce a week and that will be 10 2.45 gram to 2.51 gram new

common buds with a re-grow ideal not any Durban and not any bad {m word} Shivan 'Skunk'

so the new ideal 20, 000 maximum number common D.C. (net) citizen with medical value n

premise the new medical physical 'ailment' will include national register about common sick

condition including naturopathic arthritis and terrete's and chrons,. after glaucoma etcetera..

will be good quality cannabis and 'cannabe' buds : an ounce a week : with 95 plants belong

~ing to each cannabis center with D.C. (net) approval .. you could grow [not at residence ^]

25 5 by 5 foot plants ,. 5 BiG plants with BiG Buds ., 25 regrow on same plant (nugs and ,.

not Shivan nor Durban) ,. 20 quick grow plants with taxes on sprout and sapling ., and 20 ::

new plants [ 3 groups of 5 each : variety : and proper accord with organic value legality OK]

with 5 plants new proper accord with police 'stonedbud' so the D.C. cops will legalise newer

conditions ( such as Terrete's ~ Chrons and home restless disorder ,. not 'bag smokin~' uh,

foreign seeming disability with those deserving it realising peaceful toking ~ not bad guys. )

and begin proper accord with common ethical Pres Obama allowing new accord : med pot.

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 3:05am Permalink

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