|I heart marijuana in D.C.|
As the District of Columbia Council meets Tuesday afternoon to hear testimony on the legalization of medical marijuana, they’ll be hearing different opinions from people on the same side of the argument, reports Martin Austermuhle at DCist.
Some advocates believe the legislation introduced in late January is too restrictive and unnecessarily limits access to marijuana for qualifying patients in D.C.
The bill would set up five dispensaries where patients with approved conditions and a note from their primary care physician could buy a 30-day supply of marijuana.
The dispensaries would be required to be at least 1,000 feet from any school or youth center. Patients would be required to pay registration fees.
The proposal does not live up to the spirit of the 1998 voter initiative that approved medical marijuana in D.C., according to some advocates.
|Medical Marijuana Patients of D.C.|
Wayne Turner, one of the driving forces behind the original initiative, disagrees in an op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post.
Turner argues that a tightly-regulated system is more likely to get Congressional approval and avoid the reputed “abuses” that have been alleged elsewhere in the country.
“It’s a sound proposal that tracks the design and intent of the original initiative by creating a tightly regulated system whereby patients with serious, chronic or debilitating medical conditions can have safe and affordable access to medical marijuana,” wrote Turner.
“That’s good, because in recent years we’ve seen what a vague law and lack of regulation can do,” Turner wrote, specifically referring to California’s medical marijuana regulations as being overly broad.
“Yes, the proposal may be too restrictive for some, but Initiative 59 was never about promoting casual or recreational use of marijuana,” Turner wrote. “And the council’s cautious approach is appropriate for another reason: Under the Constitution, Congress retains the authority to overturn D.C. legislation at any time,” he wrote.
“It would be a grave mistake to unnecessarily provoke further Congressional interference by creating a system vulnerable to abuses,” Turner wrote. “The council’s plan represents the best chance to implement medical marijuana and to protect those patients whose qualify of life may depend upon this medication of last resort,” he wrote.
The hearing started at 2 p.m. Tuesday. More than 50 people signed up to testify.
The soonest the bill could be voted on in final form by the council is May.