D.C. Medical Marijuana Law Clears Congressional Hurdle

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Mike Meno, MPP director of communications 202-905-2030
or 443-927-6400

D.C. Medical Marijuana Law Clears Congressional Hurdle

Congress Takes No Action to Overturn D.C. Council Bill; Officials Now Tasked With Establishing Regulations, Taking Dispensary Applications

WASHINGTON - According
to District of Columbia Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District'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. 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,"
said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project.
"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.

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With more than 26,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

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