Washington, DC: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Not Likely Until Mid-2011

Washington, DC: Qualified patients will not be legally able to obtain or possess medical marijuana in the District until at least next summer, according to draft regulations recently issued by Mayor Adrian Fenty’s office.

Under the law, which took effect in late July, the Department of Health and the D.C. Alcohol Beverage Control Board will establish and oversee regulations for the licensed cultivation and distribution of marijuana to registered patients. However, according to a draft version of the regulations circulated by the Mayor’s office, the regulatory framework for the District’s dispensaries and cultivation centers won’t be completed until January 2011. It is not anticipated that the facilities will be up and running for several months afterward.

As amended, the District’s medical marijuana law only permits patients to possess marijuana legally if they are registered with the Health Department and have obtained cannabis from a licensed dispensary.

NORML Legal Counsel Keith Stroup criticized the delay. “Many of the patients that this law is specifically designed to protect — such as D.C. residents with HIV, cancer, and multiple sclerosis — need medical cannabis now, not a year from now. These people should not be subject to arrest and incarceration for using a medicine that helps them. Who knows how long D.C. politicians and regulators may drag their feet on this issue? Why should patients have to suffer in the interim?”

For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at: (202) 483-5500.