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DC Council approves medical marijuana

If the legislation gets an approval from federal lawmakers, Washington will allow its residents to use marijuana for its medical benefits

Washington D.C. has finally approved the use of medical marijuana, stating that people suffering from certain chronic illnesses can obtain larger amounts of the drug from select dispensaries in the city.

The 13-member Council voted unanimously in favor of legalization of medical marijuana.

Earlier doctors could recommend the drug but were not allowed to write prescription for marijuana as it was an illegal substance.

Doctors can now prescribe marijuana
But with this advancement, doctors can prescribe marijuana to patients suffering from any “chronic and lasting disease” like cancer, HIV infection, multiple sclerosis etc.

Patients can possess up to four ounces of the drug for a 30-day period, depending upon their medical requirements. Some five to eight dispensaries across the city will be selling the drug and the cost may even be subsidized for patients who cannot afford it.

DC Mayor Adrian Fenty is expected to sign the bill soon, which will then go into the hands of Congress and the White House. They have 30 days to decide if the legalization of marijuana can be approved in the city.

Doctors may now prescribe marijuana to patients suffering from any “chronic and lasting disease” like cancer, HIV infection, multiple sclerosis etc.

If the legislation gets an approval from federal lawmakers, Washington will allow its residents to use marijuana for its medical benefits.

However, unlike several other states, users will not be allowed to grow their own marijuana; later though, they may get an approval to do so.

Doctors’ mixed response
The reactions of doctors towards the legislation have been mixed. Those who were aware that their patients were already using marijuana illegally are relieved that now they will not have to fear an arrest.

However, some have expressed concerns about the correct use of the drug as they assert that the knowledge about marijuana is still limited for the medical community. Drug abuse is quite possible, they said.

David A. Catania, a sponsor of the measure, is sure it was “a thoughtful approach toward implementing a medical marijuana program that will be a model for other states that will be defensible before Congress,” reports the New York Times.

Doubt over District’s capability?
Dorothy Brizill, the executive director of D.C. Watch, a local government watchdog, said there is possibility of conflict over the location of dispensaries. She also expressed apprehension over fears that medical marijuana could be illegally sold on the streets.

“I don’t have confidence in the district’s ability to carry out the regulation,” Brizill reportedly said. “I hope to be proven wrong.”