Legalization Battle in D.C. Appears to be Over
It was the first legal pot sale in the District in at least 75 years, and it marked the end of a legalization fight that dates to the 1990s. A man the paper identified as Alonzo, the first legal pot patient in the city, bought half an ounce from the Capital City Care dispensary in Northwest Washington.
The city’s voters first approved medical marijuana in 1998, following a push by HIV/AIDS activists to put it on the ballot. The measure passed with 70 percent support. But Congress, which controls the District’s local government, blocked the initiative for years. They stopped interfering in 2009.
Washington officials have been slowly enacting the program since then. They have taken pains to apply strict regulations on growers, sellers and patients. Only those with specific severe illnesses can qualify for legal pot, for example.
District officials want to avoid further clamp-downs by Congress or the White House. The Department of Justice and the FBI are within walking distance of at least one dispensary, and the Obama administration has yet to signal how it will respond to legalized medical marijuana in its own backyard.
Medical marijuana in the capital is available only to patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma or similar conditions, and patients receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy. They must obtain doctors’ recommendations and complete paperwork with the state before they can buy.
Patients may get pot only from licensed, regulated dispensaries, of which three are currently planning to offer pot. Capital City Care was the first to get its license. Patients are limited to two ounces of dried marijuana or its equivalent in any other form of pot.
So far, according to the Post, less than a dozen patients have obtained medical marijuana cards. The city has received requests from about 20 doctors for forms allowing them to make marijuana recommendations.
The selection as of yet is limited. Capital City Care, the only dispensary open to date, offers just four strains, at prices averaging about $400 an ounce. They include Blue Dream, Master Kush and Jack Herer, according to the Post. The variety should increase once more dispensaries open.
It remains to be seen what the federal government will do. But Congress has given up a decade-long fight to keep legal pot out of the District and the Obama administration has yet to take any steps to shut the program down.
And now patients have begun buying their weed, adding the District to a long and growing list of jurisdictions in the United States where pot is either decriminalized, legal for medical purposes, or outright legal.