• Medical Cannabis Cultivators Approved by Washington, D.C.

    by  • April 2, 2012 • Cannabis

    What a long, strange trip it’s been for medical cannabis in our nation’s Capitol.   In 1998, Washington, D.C. voters cast ballots concerning an initiative to legalize medical cannabis, but Congressional Drug Warriors, led by Rep. Bob Barr (R-Georgia), declined to appropriate the funds to count the votes, an amendment named the Barr Amendment.  Once the disenfranchisement of the voters was declared unconstitutional, it was revealed that 69% of D.C. voters approved the medical cannabis law.  Unfortunately, the Drug Warriors weren’t done and denied the funds to actually implement the law.  Finally, the 2010 budget appropriations bill allocated funds to implement the law and the D.C. City Council passed a law allowing for the licensed and regulated growing and selling of medical cannabis.  The city has selected six companies to grow and supply medical cannabis, one of which is partly owned by famous television host and medical cannabis patient Montel Williams. To his credit, Bob Barr has gone from opposing medical cannabis to working with the Marijuana Policy Project to fight federal government intrusion in state medical cannabis decision, even working to repeal the amendment named after him.  What a strange trip indeed.

    From the Washington Post:

    Mohammad N. Akhter, director of the Health Department, said he and a task force evaluated dozens of bidders before selecting the six applicants. Akhter said they were chosen based on their ability to grow “quality” marijuana “in a safe environment” that includes heavy security.

    Akhter said he also tried to ensure that the cultivation centers were not too tightly clustered in the same blocks.

    “I have taken every single step that I could to make sure this is done in a safe environment in which we can have a quality product that can meet the needs of the patient in a way that the community is also satisfied,” he said in an interview. “These are the best people who can do the best job.”

    It will certainly be interesting to see how the use of medical cannabis, as well as the licensed and regulated growing and dispensing of cannabis will help shape the debate of medical cannabis in Congress and the White House.  Hopefully, the medical cannabis law will be allowed to succeed and the federal government will have proof, in our nation’s capitol, that cannabis prohibition can be repealed and, not only will our society not suffer, but will actually improve.  Of course, those with a financial stake in cannabis prohibition very well may take another shot at circumventing the will of the voters.

    More from the Washington Post:

    Another challenge could come from law enforcement officials because, under federal law, the sale or possession of medical marijuana is illegal. Federal authorities have declined to publicly sanction the program, which restricts patients to no more than 2 ounces of marijuana per month.

    But Akhter said he remains optimistic that the city’s program will withstand legal scrutiny, citing his view on the medical benefits of marijuana.

    Under the city regulations, patients suffering from cancer, HIV-AIDS, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma qualify for the program.

    “I know one thing for sure, there are a lot more dangerous drugs that we prescribe,” said Akhter, a former senior associate dean for public and international health at Howard University College of Medicine. “We made this program exactly like for other drugs we prescribe for other purposes.”

    With medical cannabis legal in 16 states and our nation’s capitol (let us also not forget that the federal government actually grows and dispenses cannabis to four patients). it is time that our federal government stops interfering in the medical cannabis programs of every state and jurisdiction.  The politicians in D.C. have clearly been laggards, trailing behind the will of the electorate, as medical cannabis is widely supported from coast to coast.  Hopefully, with a successful program right in their back yard, they will finally realize it is time to let states implement their own cannabis policies without threats from Uncle Sam.

    About

    Anthony Johnson is the executive director of the National Cannabis Coalition and our parent division, the American Victory Coalition. He also serves as a Board Member of Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, an organization working to end cannabis prohibition in Missouri. As President of the University of Missouri Law School ACLU Chapter, Anthony co-authored the measures that legalized medical cannabis possession and decriminalized personal possession for all adults within the city limits of Columbia, Missouri, in 2004. Following law school, Anthony practiced criminal defense for two years before working full time in the political field to help improve and protect civil liberties. You can follow Anthony on Twitter and also friend him on Facebook by following the links below as he posts mostly about civil liberties and politics with dashes of sports, music, movies and whatnot.

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