After 10 Years, MMJ Finally Heads for D.C.
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After 10 Years, MMJ Finally Heads for D.C.
Posted by CN Staff on January 27, 2010 at 08:49:16 PT
By Sam Jewler 
Source: Time Magazine
Washington, D.C. -- It has been years in the making, derailed by Congress three times in about as many years, but medicinal marijuana could soon be heading to the nation's capital.In 1998, voters in Washington put themselves near the forefront of the budding medical-marijuana movement when they voted nearly 7 to 3 for doctor-prescribed dope  a greater majority than those in any of the other eight statewide ballot initiatives that have passed around the country.
But no celebratory smoke-outs have followed  not yet, at least. Instead, poll workers spent that election night obscuring the results of the vote, in deference to a last-minute congressional amendment pulling funds from D.C. for the processing of any drug-legalization initiative. (Ballots had been printed prior to the ban, but the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics decided that to follow the intent of the law it had to withhold the results after the votes had been cast.) "I know of no case where a federal entity has told another entity they cannot even announce the results," says WTOP analyst Mark Plotkin. "We're not even talking about the implementation of the law." Twelve years later, the political landscape appears to be profoundly changed. The sponsor of the 1998 congressional ban, Bob Barr, has gone from a drug hawk to a libertarian, legalize-it presidential candidate  even lobbying against the law he once wrote. Fourteen states have legalized medical marijuana in the 14 years since California became the first to do so; several more are working on legislation now.In December 2009, a Congress dominated by Democrats quietly lifted the Barr Amendment, giving the city an opportunity to enact its old dope law. A few weeks later, city council member David Catania moved to do just that, introducing a bill that would implement Initiative 59, with the co-sponsorship of nine of the 13 council members. Don't ask him if there are more serious issues he should be working on. "Every time someone says that, I think my head should explode," he says. "As far as I'm concerned, this is an important issue. The evidence I've seen certainly suggests a powerful medicinal use for marijuana that can stimulate appetite and can reduce pain and suffering. So frankly that's my decision, and I'm capable of doing more than one thing at a time, as are my colleagues and as is this government." Catania acknowledges that the policy details still have to be worked out  how many dispensaries to allow, whether they'll be nonprofit or private, for which diseases prescription pot will be available, where the stuff will be grown. He leans toward more restrictive implementation, knowing that any legal-weed law can be struck down by future governments. "The voters approved the medical use of marijuana, not the recreational use of marijuana," he says. "The more professional and controlled and evidence-based our system is, the greater likelihood it will be sustained going forward."Such a system, Catania says, might create five to 10 nonprofit dispensaries around the city, which would have to be at least 1,000 feet away from places like schools, parks and other dispensaries. In contrast, for years Los Angeles has had hundreds of dispensaries, privately owned, with a 500-foot rule. But its city council passed a revised dope law just hours after D.C. outlined its own, adopting D.C.'s 1,000-foot rule and cutting the number of dispensaries allowed to around 150. A spokesman for the D.C. city council says the bill is likely to get through the council by the end of the spring, and may be approved in Congress by the end of summer.Studies have found medical cannabis to be effective in mitigating nausea, stimulating needed appetite in AIDS and cancer patients and acting as a general pain reliever, among other effects. The American Medical Association "calls for further adequate and well-controlled studies of marijuana and related cannabinoids in patients" in a policy statement that takes a cautious position on the issue.Some of the leading activists for Initiative 59 are equally ambivalent, even as they reach what appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. "It's a victory, but it's not something that I really feel like celebrating," says Wayne Turner, whose partner Steve Michael originally sponsored Initiative 59 before dying in the months leading up to its vote. "Democracy has been denied for over 10 years, and we've lost a lot of people along the way."The voting bloc of recreational weed smokers is likely to be even less enthusiastic if Catania gets his way. "I do not see this as the camel's nose under the tent to the broad legalization of marijuana, nor the recreational use, nor do I ever envision supporting the use of marijuana for anxiety or hangnails," he says. "This is for people who are profoundly sick."URL:,8599,1956673,00.htmlSource: Time Magazine (US)Author:  Sam Jewler Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2010Copyright: 2010 Time Inc.Contact: letters time.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on January 27, 2010 at 12:46:40 PT
Storm Crow 
I'm on the same page as you are. I hope you are feeling better. I will head back to bed soon. I can only stay up for a little while and then I must go rest but I am getting better each day.
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Comment #6 posted by Storm Crow on January 27, 2010 at 12:37:01 PT
It's because THEY have lead a life of privilege. The fact that some of us cannot afford something never enters their small minds. They NEED to live on a welfare/ SSI level income for a couple of months while in pain and deal with "the system" for medical help, for a good stiff dose of our reality! I think that living in pain on a limited income and having to decide between meds or food, might just open a few eyes- it should be required of all politicians! I'd better go medicate now- I'm sick today (not serious, more annoying than anything)and I'm not in a good mood.And FoM, the minute you start feeling bad, GO BACK TO BED!  
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on January 27, 2010 at 11:37:09 PT
Patient's Growing Their Own Cannabis
I think trying to keep people from growing their own cannabis will make money for some people but will hurt the patients and that is wrong. Most patients don't have the money to afford the inflated prices they are asking at pot shops. Cannabis can be grown by anyone who can grow a vegetable garden. I will never understand why some people in reform just don't seem to care who can afford it.
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on January 27, 2010 at 10:52:11 PT
this is unbelievable to me
These guys are not helping patients, they are destroying the will of the voters from 1999!The referendum was quite clear - patients grow the cannabis. Obviously these pols are trying to sabotage the law as much as possible, not "implement" it.It's interesting to me that the drug reform movement passed many medical MJ laws up until 1995 and all were ineffective because they did not allow patient growing. Now the govt. has gotten smart and they've figured out how to sabotage these laws as much as possible.We've actually gone back to where we were in the Reagan administration - medical patients get monopolized schwag weed from the government-approved source. And the saddest thing is that the national drug policy movement, which intially broke the govt's blockade with Prop 215, has now actually retreated to the point where they're passing laws in Arizona and New Jersey that are similar to the early 80's. With no patient cultivation, there is an infinite number of ways the government can regulate medical MJ right out of existence!  It's totally transparent what they're doing - patients can only get herb at dispensaries. Dispensaries must be non-profit. Dispensaries must be 1000 feet away from anything, completely eliminating them from urban areas.These guys are taking a law that was the same as Prop 215 and carving it into ribbons, and the media gives them credit for helping people. Awful.
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on January 27, 2010 at 09:43:14 PT
The author of this article
sounds haughty and unhappy that the people's vote was finally heeded.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on January 27, 2010 at 09:21:02 PT
It makes me happy too. 
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on January 27, 2010 at 08:55:04 PT
Yeah Baby!
Congress has been missing out!
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