For current medical marijuana news, follow Safe Access DC on Twitter: @SafeAccessDC
Also, read news updates and join the conversation on our Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/SafeAccessDC/
Final Regulations for the District of Columbia Medical Marijuana Program take effect 12/2/2011
Title 22 Subtitle C of DCMR
This rulemaking sets forth the process and procedures that qualifying patients, caregivers, and physicians must follow before any individual may become registered to obtain and use medical marijuana. Likewise, it sets forth the process and procedure that candidates for registration as dispensaries or cultivation centers must follow to apply for such registrations, and the operating requirements they will need to perform upon receiving a registration for such a facility. This rulemaking implements the provisions of the Act necessary to enable the Department to administer the program.
Mayor Issues Order Establishing DC Medical Marijuana Program
Establishment of Medical Marijuana Program Pursuant to the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1999, Delegation of Functions and Rulemaking authority to the Director of the Department of Health, and the Chief, Metropolitan Police Department.
Patients are not currently protected by the District’s Medical Marijuana Program.
The District of Columbia Department of Health has not begun accepting patients for enrollment in the DC Medical Marijuana Program.
Patient’s will only be legally protected upon registering with the District of Columbia Department of Health, providing all necessary identification, registration fees, and current 30day recommendation submitted on the required form’s provided by DC DOH.
The Final Regulations for the DC Medical Marijuana Program were issued on December 2, 2011, establishing the requirements and procedures for Patients, Caregivers, and Physicians must follow to register and comply with the law.
DC Department of Health Medical Marijuana Program Website
The District of Columbia Health Regulation and Licensing Administration is currently reviewing applications for the licensing of 10 Cultivation Centers and 5 Dispensaries.
Through FOIA requests, a full list of applicants is available on the DC DOH website.
All questions must be given in written form:
Interested parties may send inquiries by email to email@example.com
by regular mail to:
Medical Marijuana Program
Health Regulation and Licensing Administration
899 N. Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Maps of Proposed Dispensaries and Cultivation Centers
Federal Threat to the District of Columbia Medical Marijuana Program
On June 29, 2011 Deputy Attorney General of the United Stated James M. Cole issued a memorandum for all United States Attorneys clarifying the Departments stance regarding states medical marijuana laws. The Cole memorandum clarifies the Departments stance stating that all forms of dispensaries and cultivation centers will run in violation of the Controlled Substances Act and are thereby valid targets for federal enforcement action.
The Cole Memorandum
The Cole Memorandum however offers protection to individual patients and caregivers. The Cole memo states that it is not deemed an efficient use of limited federal resources to focus federal enforcement actions on patients and caregivers who comply with all applicable state law.
Patient Cultivation in the District of Columbia
In 1998, District residents voted for Initiative 59 allowing patients the right to use and cultivate marijuana for medicinal purposes. The initiative was subsequently banned by congress through the Barr Amendment, which was lifted in December 2009. This allowed the medical marijuana program to move forward. On April 6, 2011, Mayor Vincent Gray approved the final regulations for the District’s medical marijuana program that initially prohibits patient cultivation.
Of the 17 states that regulate medical cannabis, only two programs prohibit patient cultivation: New Jersey and the District of Columbia. Both programs have faced exhausting delays, depriving patients and caregivers legal protection and safe access to medicine.
District patients and caregivers will only have the legal protection to obtain medical marijuana from one of 5 licensed dispensaries located within the District of Columbia. The District’s lawful Dispensaries and Cultivation centers can be shut down by Federal enforcement action at a moments notice, interrupting treatment to patients that are in need.
Patient cultivation is the only model that will provide legal protection to patients enrolled in the District’s medical marijuana program and ensure patients supply of medication is not interrupted or unjustly terminated. Any disruption in supply of medication will deprive doctors, caregivers, and patients who suffer the medicine needed to treat patients whose medical condition warrants the recommended therapeutic use of marijuana. Relying exclusively on centralized production and distribution is untested and will likely fail to address patients’ needs.
Patient Cultivation as a Solution
Although most patients prefer to purchase their medication from a local distribution center, for the District law to work effectively, patients need the right to cultivate as a safety net in case the District’s centralized cultivation and the dispensary model does not work.
District medical cannabis patients need patient cultivation as a safety net, not only to create a functional program that provides medicine to patients, but also to catch patients of the District when:
1. The Drug Enforcement Administration or other Federal Agencies attempt to interfere with centralized production and distribution centers.
2. There is a price increase at a patient’s registered dispensary due to limited supply of medication, or in event supply of medication runs out at a patients registered dispensary.
3. There is a crop failure jeopardizing all of the medication at one of ten centralized cultivation center’s, or pharmacological testing deems all of the medication is unusable.
4. The dispensary model does not work for low-income patients who cannot afford expensive dispensary pricing.
5, There is a limited amount of genetic diversity in medication provided to patients at their dispensary, depriving patients the genetic strains best suited to treat their medical condition.
6. The implementation of the program is stalled or otherwise interrupted, leaving patients without medication.
Restricting patients to a centralized supply with high overhead costs, increases the price of medical cannabis and makes it unaffordable for many patients. Patient cultivation ensures prices will be kept low by increasing the options available to patients, which in turn leads to fair and competitive pricing in the medical cannabis market.
A closed system will disenfranchise low income patients who cannot afford high costs from the restricted dispensary model.
Many patients cannot afford the expensive prices set by the dispensary model. Patients need options and the right to affordably grow their own medicine. In addition, by allowing patients to grow their own medication, they can control its production, quality, and consistency.
Patient cultivation policies allow knowledgeable patients to select cannabis strains that meet their needs and guarantees reliable, affordable, and consistent access to medicine.
Cannabis is not a complicated pharmaceutical product; it is a plant that, like a tomato plant, will thrive with appropriate care. While the cultivation of cannabis requires time, resources, and skill, cannabis is still relatively easy to grow. In fact, people have been successfully cultivating cannabis for therapeutic use for thousands of years.
How To Enact Patient Cultivation
The District of Columbia Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee is delegated by law to determine the fate of patient cultivation. The Advisory Committee must submit a report no later than January 1, 2012, including it’s recommendations regarding patients rights to cultivate medicine.
The Advisory Committee has yet to be seated due to delays in implementing the District’s medical marijuana program.
How to make you’re voice count:
-Sign Petition to allow patient cultivation.
-Contact your representatives and ask that they support patient cultivation.
-Write to Advisory Committee members (when seated) directly, share your testimonial as a patient, caregiver, or proud supporter of patient cultivation
Contact DC Mayor Vincent Gray:
Safe Access DC asks that all concerned patients and residents of the District of Columbia write/email/call Mayor Vincent Gray’s office and ask that he put DC patients at the top of his administrations priority and work with the patient community to protect DC patients.
Questions to ask:
-Will the City move quickly to appoint the appropriate staff to launch the program? When will the Department of Health begin accepting patient applications submitted by their recommending doctor? District voters overwhelmingly approved the medical program in 1998 with 69% support, patients have since suffered, many have lost close friends and family members, or faced criminal prosecution for pursuing life saving medical treatment. Current District patients deserve better, they deserve immediate protection under the District law, and safe access to Medical Marijuana treatment under the supervision of their doctor.
-Will the City have staff in place to handle the number of valid applications submitted to the Department of Health for enrollment in the Medical Marijuana Program. Many states are experiencing a significant backlog of applications, given the District’s program only offers legal protection to medical patients AFTER enrollment, are there steps in place to ensure patients don’t experience long waits for enrollment?
-Will you support using the rulemaking procedures to expand the list of qualifying medical conditions to include additional conditions proven through scientific and medical research to benefit from the therapeutic use of medical marijuana?
Conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, Chronic Pain, Tourette’s Syndrome, Migraine Headaches, Fibromyalgia, Anxiety, PTSD, Epilepsy, Diabetes mellitu, Attention Deficit Disorder, and other documented medical conditions that benefit from the therapeutic use of medical marijuana will NOT be protected under the District’s program. Will the Mayors office expedite the process to protect the patient community of Washington DC?
DC Medical Marijuana Law – Update:
The Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1999 (Act), effective February 25, 2010 ( D.C. Law 13-315; 57 DCR 3360), as amended by the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act of 2010, effective July 27, 2010 (D.C. Law 18-210; 57 DCR 4798), have cleared Congressional Review and are enacted law.
On November 12 2010, the Washington DC Office of the City Administrator issued the Notice of Second Proposed Rulemaking regarding the implementation of the Districts Medical Marijuana Program. This establishes the rules and framework under which the program will operate.
The rulemaking amends Title 22 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR) by adding a new Subtitle C entitled “Medical Marijuana”.
Upon the signing of Mayor Vincent Gray, the rules regarding the District of Columbia’s Medical Marijuana program will take effect.
Before patients are eligible for enrollment, the District of Columbia must seat two panels. The panels will be tasked with reviewing the applications for Dispensaries and Cultivation Centers, as well as certifying and conducting all arbitrary actions involving the running of the DC Medical Marijuana Program.
An additional Advisory Committee will be formed to complete a review submitted by January 2012 including: a review of the laws of states with medical marijuana programs, status of DC Medical Marijuana program, need for patient cultivation, expanding the list of qualifying conditions, and additional information regarding the maintenance of the Districts program.
Upon seating the two panels, the District will open the application process for potential Dispensaries(5) and Cultivation Centers(10). The reviews will be based on a merit based point system, selecting the most viable candidates for approval. Upon selection, it could take as much as 6 months for the dispensaries to open their doors to patients, and for cultivation centers to produce medicine for patients.
The Department of Health will oversee patient enrollment into the DC Medical Marijuana Program, with patient records protected under Federal HIPAA Laws.
The DC Medical Marijuana Laws:
- Initiative 59- 1998, Legalization of Medical Marijuana for Medical Treatment
- Legalization of Medical Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act of 2010
- Mayor’s Order Establishing District of Columbia Medical Marijuana Program
- Fourth Proposed Rulemaking(Current Regulations)
- List of Qualifying Conditions