Congress Close To Lifting D.C. Medical Marijuana Ban


Painting: James Montgomery Flagg
Hey, Congress: I want YOU to respect the will of the people

​In a historic move, Congress is poised to end a decade-long ban on implementation of the medical marijuana law passed with a 69 percent majority by voters in the District of Columbia in 1998.

Known as the Barr Amendment, after its author, then-Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), the provision — a rider attached to appropriations for D.C. — has forbidden the District from extending legal protection to qualified medical marijuana patients.
The Barr Amendment has been derided by advocates for years as an unconscionable intrusion by the federal government into the democratically expressed will of the District’s people.
The omnibus spending bill that Democratic leaders will be bringing to a vote in the House later this week removes this onerous provision. Once both chambers of Congress approve the final language and the President signs it, the Barr Amendment will no longer block medical marijuana in the District of Columbia.

Aaron Houston: “This represents a huge victory”

​”The end of the Barr Amendment is now in sight,” said Aaron Houston, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project in D.C. “This represents a huge victory not just for medical marijuana patients, but for all city residents who have every right to set their own policies in their own District without Congressional meddling.
“D.C. residents overwhelmingly made the sensible, compassionate decision to pass a medical marijuana law, and now, more than 10 years later, suffering Washingtonians may finally be allowed to focus on treating their pain without fearing arrest,” Houston said.
Jonathan Magbie died in the D.C. jail after being arrested for medical marijuana.

​Advocates noted that the welcome repeal will come too late to help Jonathan Magbie, a D.C. quadriplegic man who died in prison in 2004 from lack of medical care after being arrested and convicted for using marijuana to treat his pain.
“Jonathan Magbie would be alive today if the District had been able to implement its medical marijuana law when it passed in 1998,” Houston said. “Perhaps now nobody in the District will ever have to suffer as he and his family did simply for using the medicine that works best for them.”
Recently, the American Medical Association called on the federal government to reconsider marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug, which bars medical use and makes research difficult.
Marijuana Policy Project
With more than 29,000 members and 100,000 email 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 it in a manner similar to alcohol
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