Bill Would Loosen MMJ Restrictions in D.C.

Apr 8, 2014

D.C. Coun­cil mem­bers intro­duced leg­is­la­tion Tues­day that would greatly expand the avail­abil­ity of med­ical mar­i­juana to D.C. patients by doing away with the list of qual­i­fy­ing con­di­tions that cur­rently restrict access to the pro­gram. A bill intro­duced by Coun­cil mem­ber Yvette M. Alexan­der, Ward 7 Demo­c­rat and chair­man of the Com­mit­tee on Health, would elim­i­nate a list of four con­di­tions that cur­rently allow a patient to seek a doctor’s refer­ral to use med­ical mar­i­juana. Instead the bill would amend the def­i­n­i­tion of “qual­i­fy­ing med­ical con­di­tion” to mean any con­di­tion that would ben­e­fit from med­ical mar­i­juana treat­ment as deter­mined by the patient’s physi­cian. The council’s 13 mem­bers unan­i­mously spon­sored the bill, vir­tu­ally assur­ing its even­tual pas­sage. Cur­rently, the District’s tightly reg­u­lated pro­gram iden­ti­fies only four ill­nesses as eli­gi­ble for med­ical mar­i­juana treat­ment — HIV/AIDS, can­cer, glau­coma, and con­di­tions char­ac­ter­ized by severe and per­sis­tent mus­cle spasms, such as mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis. While offi­cials believe as many as 40,000 of the District’s 640,000 res­i­dents could qual­ify for the city’s med­ical mar­i­juana pro­gram under those con­di­tions, only about 200 patients have been approved since the pro­gram got up and run­ning in July. “It has been made clear that this pro­gram is in need of a leg­isla­tive improve­ment,” Ms. Alexan­der said as she intro­duced the leg­is­la­tion. In March, the District’s Depart­ment of Health announced it would begin accept­ing peti­tions from indi­vid­u­als seek­ing to add new ill­nesses to the list of qual­i­fy­ing med­ical con­di­tions, but med­ical mar­i­juana advo­cates crit­i­cized the process as overly bur­den­some. Health depart­ment Direc­tor Joxel Gar­cia has tes­ti­fied dur­ing prior coun­cil hear­ings that he sup­ports leav­ing the deci­sion up to doc­tors rather than gov­ern­ment offi­cials. Ms. Alexan­der cited Dr. Garcia’s tes­ti­mony, as well as that of cur­rent med­ical mar­i­juana patients and oth­ers who hope to gain access to the drug, as the rea­son for her sup­port. “While we are able to leg­is­late what con­di­tions we think are best, it is clear that the med­ical opin­ion of a physi­cian should take pri­or­ity in deter­min­ing who obtains access to med­ical mar­i­juana,” Ms. Alexan­der said. The leg­is­la­tion loos­en­ing the restric­tions comes as D.C. Mayor Vin­cent C. Gray last week signed a bill decrim­i­nal­iz­ing mar­i­juana. Source: Wash­ing­ton Times (DC) Author: Andrea Noble, The Wash­ing­ton Times Pub­lished: April 8, 2014 Copy­right: 2014 The Wash­ing­ton Times, LLC Web­site: http://​www​.wash​times​.com/ Con­tact: letters@​washingtontimes.​com

4139edb7c4York 3.jpg 150x88 Bill Would Loosen MMJ Restrictions in D.C.

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Bill Would Loosen MMJ Restric­tions in D.C.

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