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Questions remain unanswered on D.C. medical pot rules

Questions about how and where marijuana would be grown and distributed in the District if the D.C. Council legalizes the drug for medical use remained unanswered Tuesday as dozens of residents testified at a hearing in support of the legislation.

Nine out of 13 council members are co-sponsoring the bill that would make the city the 15th jurisdiction in the country to offer the option to the chronically ill.

The logistics will have to be worked out through regulations, said Pierre Vigilance, director of the Department of Health.

Dr. Pat Hawkins, clinical director of the DC Community AIDS Network, told council members that a coummunity advisory panel should be formed to help implement a system.

The legislation calls for the creation of five dispensaries, which could distribute a month's supply to a registered patient as prescribed by a physician.

But Steph Sherer, of Americans for Safe Access, said the city should consider permitting more locations. She pointed to Oakland as a comparison. She said Oakland has four locations, but that was not enough to provide adequately for patients. "They're upping it to six now," she said. "It's too few....People have to wait a long period of time."

Where would the dispensaries be placed? Council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) said she hoped the sites would not be clustered in one area.

Advocates appeared most concerned with getting the bill passed and untouched by Congress. In 1998, voters approved an initiative, but it was blocked by Congress.

 "As we proceed, we have another issue and that's 535 members of Congress," said Wayne Turner, sponsor of Initiative 59.

-- Nikita Stewart

By Nikita Stewart  |  February 23, 2010; 6:44 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , Nikita Stewart  
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It's marvelous that the DC Council is working so diligently to implement a medical marijuana law. I've never used the stuff myself but got interested in the issue in grad school 40 years ago and quickly realized that marijuana is much less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, in addition to being medically useful. I was particularly impressed by Council member Catania--intelligent, articulate, extremely knowledgeable about the issue, and clearly dedicated to getting a law that will help suffering people and also stand up to congressional scrutiny, if the political winds shift in the future.

Posted by: kaosmgr | February 24, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

When they put enough rules and regulations together and finally get their m/m program
going,will they have medicine that is available for their patients at a price they can afford to pay? As long as a patient can grow their own with possession limits set at enough that they can grow a one year supply
during the summer,they remove a lot of expense and many safety hazards connected with indoor grows.
And the more the m/m costs the patients,the more likelihood of criminal
involvement in their program.
And when the price of the "medicine" gets too high,people will just buy the black market weed already available. It may take a little more of it to do the job,but it will work.

Posted by: claygooding | February 27, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

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