Medical Marijuana


The District’s city council has reached a compromise with medical marijuana.  A topic that’s been hotly debated for some time, the council voted on emergency legislation that caps the number of cultivation centers in any ward to six.  The legislation specifically addressed the concerns by residents of Ward 5, who feel that their ward is being unfairly targeted as a “dumping ground” for the cultivation centers, due to zoning restrictions in other wads.

History of this bill in D.C. dates back to 1998, when a referendum by the city approved the legalization of medical marijuana, with 69 percent of District voters endorsing the it.  However, the then-Republican Congress, who withheld funding to implement the program, blocked this bill.  The bill resurfaced in May of 2010 when the council approved amendments to the old law.

Residents are worried that Ward 5 will suffer as the clustering area for the city’s cultivation units, where 26 of the 28 city’s applications were applied for, with many seeking space in warehouses near Bladensburg Road and New York Avenue.

Under the emergency legislation, no more than eight cultivation registrations can be awarded.  The new D.C. law allows doctors to write medicinal marijuana prescriptions to patients who suffer from multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and other serious conditions.

The law also allows for 10 sites that will be authorized to grow the plant and five distribution centers (dispensaries) where people can obtain the marijuana with a doctor’s prescription.

At-Large Council Member Vincent Orange (D) put together emergency legislation that would restrict how many cultivation centers could be located in the Northeast quadrant of the city.  However, fellow At-Large Council members David Catania (I) and Phil Mendelson (D) opposed Orange’s legislation saying it might undermine the medical marijuana law.

Mendleson, who chairs the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary said on the dais during a council vote that Orange’s emergency legislation could make the product too difficult to obtain, which is illegal under federal law.

TV personality and former talk show host, Montel Williams has been on a crusade supporting medicinal marijuana.  He is a part of a group supporting marijuana’s usage and wants to open the Abtain Wellness Center on Queens Chapel Road.

By March 2nd the city will know what ten cultivation sites have been approved and where they will be located, by March 30th the city will know what five dispensaries have been approved and by early fall the program is expected to be in full operation.



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