Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Washington DC Will Get Medical Marijuana

Publisher Norm Kent visiting a legal medical dispensary in Oakland, California

Legal pot now closer to home.

House and Senate negotiations for the 2010 Appropriations bill have been completed, and Congress has opened the door to funding a law one right wing reprsentative thwarted ten years ago. It is medical marijuana time in the Capitol. Here's the deal. Brad Cohen will want to know.

In 1998, DC voters overwhelmingly passed a medical marijuana bill, but Congressional anti-drug warriors- led by Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia- prevented DC from spending any federal money to count the votes (that’s right, in our democracy’s capital, our leaders conspired to prevent citizens from counting votes in a legal election).

When that was deemed unconstitutional by the courts, they spent the money to count the votes, showing that 69% of DC supported medical marijuana. So Rep. Barr created the “Barr Amendment” that prevented DC from spending any money to implement the medical marijuana program they had voted in.

Well, today’s 2010 Appropriations bill changes all that. In addition to removing bans on abortion, domestic partnerships, and needle exchange, Congress has given the go-ahead to begin implementing DC medical marijuana! I am getting back that apartment on Connecticut Avenue.

The combined bills in the Senate and House refect progressive changes by our Congress, removing special restrictions on the District of Columbia: eliminates a prohibition on the use of local tax funds for abortion, thereby putting the District in the same position as the 50 states. Also allows the District to implement the '98 referendum on use of marijuana for medical purposes as has been done in other states, and it allows use of Federal funds for needle exchange programs except in locations considered inappropriate by District authorities, and discontinues a ban on the use of funds in the bill for domestic partnership registration and benefits. In one fell swoop, four progressive pieces of legislation George Bush and his cohorts in the Republican controlled Congress never allowed.

DC’s medical marijuana bill was written with the same sort of open language as was passed in California… will we be seeing marijuana dispensaries on K Street anytime soon? Yes, he said, I do believe so!

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