Today Vincent Gray – mayor of Washington D.C. – announced that he has approved the final regulations that will govern medical marijuana production and distribution in the city. The rules will be published and go into effect on April 15th, and the City Council will have thirty days to review them. From an email alert from our friends at The Marijuana Policy Project:
Once the final regulations are published, the Department of Health will begin taking applications from individuals or organizations hoping to open one of five medical marijuana dispensaries and 10 cultivation centers. These applications will be evaluated using an objective, scored system based on how well they meet the criteria set forth in the regulations, and will be reviewed by a panel that includes members of the Department of Health, Metro Police, and other agencies tasked with oversight. Seriously ill D.C. residents will also be able to begin filing their applications for medical marijuana licenses.
“It’s been a long wait, but I’m glad that the thousands of District residents who might benefit from this program can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dan Riffle, a legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project. “Now the work begins in selecting the most qualified individuals to grow and dispense marijuana, and ensuring our nation’s capital sets another example of how carefully crafted medical marijuana programs can protect seriously ill patients in a safe, responsible, and effective manner.”
Patients that would qualify for the program are looking forward to starting the application process, but are wary that the regulations do not go far enough to protect patients. Theresa Skipper, an HIV patient from the District who has used marijuana to treat her condition, said, “I’m glad the mayor is finally getting around to signing this into law. Patients like me have waited long enough for legal access to our medicine, and knowing that we won’t have to wait much longer is a huge relief to all of us. I just want to follow the rules and try to live a normal life, and this is an important step, but we need to continue working to protect the rights of patients under this system.”
In fact, patients have had to wait 12 years since voters in the city passed a medical marijuana ballot initiative. That’s an incredibly long time to make sick people suffer, especially since many states have set up working medical cannabis systems that can be cherry-picked from , or copied outright.
Things continue to move forward on multiple fronts in the realm of medical marijuana, and we must continue to push politicians all over the country to do what is right; and what is right is providing relief to sick people.