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Medical marijuana now legal

Medical marijuana is now legal in the District after the Democrat-controlled Congress declined to overrule a D.C Council bill that allows the city to set up as many as eight dispensaries where chronically ill patients can purchase the drug.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) said in a statement the bill become law after Congress finished its business Monday night because neither the House nor Senate opted to intervene.

The council approved the bill in May, and under Home Rule Congress had 30 legislative days to review it.

"We have faced repeated attempts to re-impose the prohibition on medical marijuana in D.C. throughout the layover period," said Norton. "Yet, it is D.C.'s business alone to decide how to help patients who live in our city and suffer from chronic pain and incurable illnesses."

Although the bill has now cleared Congress, patients will likely have to wait at least several months before they can obtain the drug from a city-sanctioned dispensary.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and the Department of Health now have to establish regulations outlining who can bid for a license to open a dispensary. (See how different states handle medical marijuana.)

The law allows patients with cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS and other chronic ailments can possess up to four ounces of the drug.

Patients will not be allowed to grow their own marijuana, but licensed companies will be able to sell the drug to people who first obtain a doctor's prescription.

The council also approved a provision in the 2011 budget that calls for medical marijuana to be subject to the city's 6 percent sales tax. Underprivileged residents who qualify will be eligible to purchase their drugs free or at reduced cost.

Under the legislation, sponsored by council members David A. Catania (I-At large) and Phil Mendelson (D-At large), both non-profit and for-profit organizations will be eligible to operate the dispensaries.

Even after the Department of Health licenses the dispensaries and cultivation centers, they could be delayed by a zoning process in which residents could protest where the dispensaries will be located. The legislation states the dispensaries will not be allowed to be located within 300 feet of a school.

Distributors also will be limited to growing no more than 95 marijuana plants at a given location, an apparent effort to keep dispensers within federal law that heightens penalties on anyone arrested with at least 100 plants.

The law caps a years-long struggle to act on a 1998 referendum in which 69 percent of District residents voted for to allow medical marijuana. Until last year, Congress blocked the city from enacting the referendum.

City leaders, hoping to avoid the quasi-legalization of the drug, say the District will have one of the most restrictive medical marijuana laws in the country. They fear a future Congress could reverse the law if it is abused.

--Tim Craig

By Erica Johnston  |  July 27, 2010; 12:13 AM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig  | Tags: Congress, Norton, home rule, medical marijuana, pot  
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Comments

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjH61Gw_AcI


make it legal, make it green Iowa...(stick that in your pipe Grassley,King and Latham)

Posted by: RevRayGreen | July 27, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Now we will see if the DEA will respect the promises of Pres. Obama and AG Holder or if they will continue to raid dispensaries and growers that while following State laws, the DEA has continued to bust in Ca.
Just last week 5 major groups asked that Pres. Obama stop the nomination of Michele Leonhart to be permanent head of the DEA is a trial balloon - a test of strength and resolve.

The nomination of a ruthless prohibitionist is a test of whether he takes himself seriously when he says that the federal government is going to stop wasting time, money and people on medical marijuana raids in states where it is legal. It is, more significantly, a test of whether he takes the drug reform movement seriously.
Maybe once a Congressman or WhiteHouse staffer is caught up in one of the coming busts DC will finally take their head out of the sand.

Posted by: SmileySam | July 27, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

OW! My back! :)

Posted by: tradervic1313 | July 27, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

sounds good on paper, but the human race will again, use, abuse and ruin this.

Posted by: Bigfoot_has_a_posse | July 27, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse


I hope the DEA shuts down each and every dispensary. DC might buck Federal Law, but being in the nation's capital, possession of Weed is a Felony.

Lock'm up Obama.

Posted by: AlbyVA | July 27, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

AlbyVA.. what precisely is your opposition to patients in need having safe access to their medicine? As a taxpayer, I feel it is an enormous waste of federal resources to spend time prosecuting medical marijuana patients. In fact, prosecuting marijuana users and small-time sellers in general is a waste of time. I'd much rather my money went to fund education or public health than to prosecute people for a drug which is less dangerous than caffeine. Get your priorities straight!

Posted by: dajew405 | July 27, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I know someone on probation for less than $5 of marijuana. Yesterday, he went to drug test downtown at the Courthouse. To his astonishment, DC drug tests kids. I'm talking 12,13 y/o kids. Yesterday, there were 2 kids there getting drug tested. Both were without their parents. Both were frightened to death. When it was time for them to go back and take their test, one cried like, well, a baby. He didn't want to go into a small bathroom and urinate in front of the gay guy assigned to monitor his urine collection. If anyone can tell me that this makes sense on any level, I defy you to defend what I just detailed.

Posted by: nate20011 | July 27, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

AlbyVA needs to get their facts straight before speaking. Possession of marijuana in the District is misdemeanor.
http://law.findlaw.com/state-laws/marijuana/district-of-columbia/

Posted by: WonkNRoll | July 27, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

AlbyVA.. what precisely is your opposition to patients in need having safe access to their medicine? As a taxpayer, I feel it is an enormous waste of federal resources to spend time prosecuting medical marijuana patients. In fact, prosecuting marijuana users and small-time sellers in general is a waste of time. I'd much rather my money went to fund education or public health than to prosecute people for a drug which is less dangerous than caffeine. Get your priorities straight!

Posted by: dajew405 | July 27, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I whole heartedly agree. It's a shame that some people fail to realize this. Most of the people that are against you and me also think that proper health care and proper education are a privilege, not a right. They also think that proper health care and proper education should cost money, lots of money. shame.

Posted by: Bigfoot_has_a_posse | July 27, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

nate20011; there IS NO justification , it is just another festering example of how crazy our federal government has become.... maybe we can get someone in office who WILL make a change,,,,one can only hope that one day this country will get it's S*^% together.

Posted by: LDude | July 27, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

LDude,
I agree with you. Unlike civil rights, I don't think white people are going to bail us out on this one. This is an issue that blakc people must solve on our own. Sadly, I don't think that there is the collective sense and will to do what is needed.

As such, we have events like what I described. The mindless drug testing of young kids. People arrested for miniscule amount of drugs. All of which breeds hatred of the police by the population that needs them the most.

Posted by: nate20011 | July 27, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Also, the title of this entry, "Medical marijuana now legal" is misleading. Presently, legal medical marijuana does not exist in DC. According to B18-622, Sec. 3(c)(2), in order to be a qualifying (or "legal") medical marijuana patient, you must register with the District. Nobody can register as a patient until the mayor sets for the rules. In other words, until Fenty gets off his soon-to-be-voted-out rear end and creates the registry and other requisite aspects of B18-622 Sec. 6, there is no such thing as legal medical marijuana in DC.

As more accurate title for the entry would be "Only Mayor Fenty Stands in the Way of Legal Medical Marijuana".

Posted by: WonkNRoll | July 27, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I will use and abuse this law....

STAMPED

I have already shown early signs of glaucoma so it shouldn't be a problem....

Posted by: 4thFloor | July 27, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

If this were for the people - they could grow their own. This is for the profits.

Posted by: gary4books | July 27, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

While Journey Healing Centers (drug and alcohol rehab centers) supports the limited use of medical marijuana for critically ill or terminal patients, we oppose Medical Marijuana legalization and Arizona's Prop 203. Without any federal oversight for medical marijuana, there are no FDA approvals or standard regulations. Dr Ravi Chandiramani, Journey Healing Centers Medical Director, explains, "We are concerned about the abuse and addiction potential of cannabis, which has been proven. In California, prescriptions have been provided for a wide variety of reasons, some legitimate and many not so legitimate." If you have any drug or alcohol addiction questions, please call our Free 24-Hour Hotline to speak with an Addiction Specialist: 1-866-774-5119

Posted by: JourneyHealingCenters | July 27, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Any US citizen may still enforce Federal drug statutes via private prosecution, despite the city's reluctance to do so. In fact, if a privately-prosecuted enforcement succeeds, the prosecutor may be entitled to enhanced reimbursement.

Posted by: rmgregory | July 27, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Uh, Nate, what's the point of the comment about the gay guy doing the drug testing? Throw in a little hate for no reason? Not at all relevant to the topic being discussed.

Posted by: Marylander4 | July 27, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I hope the DEA shuts down each and every dispensary. DC might buck Federal Law, but being in the nation's capital, possession of Weed is a Felony.

Lock'm up Obama.

Posted by: AlbyVA

No it is not. Stop letting us know how stupid you really are. Just because it sounds good to you while you are typing it does not make it accurate or factual. It may look good in a post to you though. Do you even know the law in DC? No, you just make up your own theories regarding the district and because you post it it must be right. What is scary is you are probably someones boss, live right in local VA and dont have a clue about DC accept what you read in the metro section.

Posted by: ged0386 | July 27, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Wait... Congress may reverse the bill if it's abused? Hmm... When is the entire prescription narcotic program going to be outlawed? It's quite abused.

Posted by: mr_nik | July 27, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

So if weed becomes legal will users have to carry a letter from their doctor just in case they are stopped by the cops?

Will you be able to drive while stoned since there is currently no testable limit for pot?

Posted by: Jimof1913 | July 27, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

When the Veterans Administration Hospital doctors gave me a year to live in 1997 because of a contaminated Gamma Globulin shot I was given in 1967, they told me to go home and show my sons how a man dies. Well I decided to show them how a man does what he can to live. I got civilian doctors that sent me to Holland to try medical marijuana. Because of that I was able to do the chemotherapy and I am alive today. The VA refused me the chemotherapy because I used Marijuana after losing 94 pounds! I lost plenty of friends after Vietnam because of the Hepatitis C the Army gave us. Most of them because they were smoking marijuana and the VA doctors took them off treatment or refused them treatment or Liver Transplants.


This week the VA started allowing Vets to use Medical Marijuana in states that have laws OK'ing it's use. Now DC will have a limited group of dispensaries for patients. Probably not enough for the patient load, no pun intended.


It is time we got Marijuana Scheduled to a realistic level. Marinol is Schedule 3 and it is 100% THC. Cocaine is Schedule 2 with Morphine. How about we Schedule Marijuana to schedule 5 or 6? That is realistic.


Marijuana laws are determined by people that have no idea what Marijuana is like. Sort of like pornography, people that don't look at porn decide what porn is. I don't watch porn but I do use Marijuana for Glaucoma, a side effect from the chemo, and I am too old to buy Marijuana on the street. Because of my cardiac problems I am unable to use the "normal" Glaucoma eye drops. Which are heart meds dropped in the eyes. Talk about a rock and a hard place...


I live in the hate filled state of Virginia where Marijuana is quasi legal for Glaucoma and Cancer patients. The haters, Jerry Fallwellians, got elected because they promised to get rid of the car tax, well we still have it people. Vote them out! I am considering a move to DC now. But my experience with dispensaries is that the cost will outweigh the benefit. Boy does that sound screwie or what?


I was one of the patients in the IOM study and they determined that the Government should be giving me the same medicine grown in Mississippi that the patients left over from the IND program get that G. Bush closed because too many Gays were getting Marijuana. Only a few people got to be on the program, most not Gay. Bush you piece of ...


Well, I'm a Vet and I should be getting my medicine free from the VA and I have two LEGAL prescriptions for Marijuana. I am 100% disabled and Virginia won't let me grow it or buy it. It's ok if it falls from the sky and they won't prosecute me but they will harass me. Where is the "Equal Under The Law" that the Constitution guarantees me?


I am sympathetic for those in DC that are suffering ailments and illnesses. You'll get God's Medicine now. But at what price?

You that are against Medical Marijuana? I hope you get YOUR turn to need it!

Posted by: iamuhuh | July 27, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Why does the Post allow advertisements in the comments section? Specifically Journey Healing Centers. It is shameful and they are the same people that benefit from the court forced "treatments" for people that get caught with small amounts of marijuana.

Want to know the truth about Medical Marijuana? Talk to a MS patient or a Cancer patient or Pain patient or Glaucoma patient. Don't take the word of someone that gets money from it prohibition. When I spoke in Congress or the State House in Richmond, the only people that spoke against were the people that benefit from it's being illegal, the Police, the Prison business groups and the Urine Testers and the "ReHab" groups. The only ones that stand to lose if the law changes.
Talk to a patient.

Posted by: iamuhuh | July 27, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Why does the Post allow advertisements in the comments section? Specifically Journey Healing Centers. It is shameful and they are the same people that benefit from the court forced "treatments" for people that get caught with small amounts of marijuana.

Want to know the truth about Medical Marijuana? Talk to a MS patient or a Cancer patient or Pain patient or Glaucoma patient. Don't take the word of someone that gets money from it prohibition. When I spoke in Congress or the State House in Richmond, the only people that spoke against were the people that benefit from it's being illegal, the Police, the Prison business groups and the Urine Testers and the "ReHab" groups. The only ones that stand to lose if the law changes.
Talk to a patient.

Posted by: iamuhuh | July 27, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Politicians say they care about the people, the patients in this case. The unfortunate reality is they don't care because the patients don't generate a profit like the Police, the rehab centers, the drug test centers, the prison business. Marijuana being illegal supports these businesses. That's all the politicians care about, marijuana is illegal so people build industries around the fact that it is. I wish it wasn't the case but sadly it is. Anyone care to disagree?

Posted by: Bigfoot_has_a_posse | July 28, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

To answer the what came first question... the marijuana smokers preceded the liberal democrat lead congress. The entry level drug leads to harder things like federal controlled health care. At least the bill should have covered the taxes gained from smoking pot to pay the health care bill funding.

Posted by: CMVienna | July 28, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

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