D.C. in the Weed(s)

City leaders try to answer questions about legalizing medical marijuana

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP

    Medical marijuana users in the District may not have to go to a clinic or a doctor’s office to get their dose; they may be able to go into their backyard.

    D.C. Council is thinking of adding a provision to the new medical marijuana bill that would allow some users to grow plants for their own use. They’d likely be limited to two plants per home.

    City leaders are still ironing out a number of details about legalized medical marijuana -- a decade-old issue that just recently became relevant. Washingtonians voted to legalize marijuana back in 1998, but it wasn’t until last December that Congress approved D.C.’s 2010 budget. That allowed the District to legalize marijuana.

    Officials are hoping to base their program on other cities and states. Los Angeles, for example, didn’t impose strict limits on shops at first.

    “[We don’t want to] follow the mistakes of Los Angeles, which opened the door so wide it was tantamount to legalized pot,” Councilman Phil Mendelson told the Washington Examiner.

    How users get their pot remains one of the major questions in Washington. Councilman David Catania is proposing five retail-like clinics throughout the city. He wants the shops far away from schools or youth centers.

    That doesn’t solve other problems, like: Which doctors can prescribe medical marijuana? What conditions would qualify for a medical marijuana prescription? How will pot actually get into the city?

    Of the 14 states that allow medical marijuana, 13 currently allow so-called "home cultivation." Most states allow people to
    cultivate five to six plants, said National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws executive director Allen St. Pierre.

    A couple of D.C. Council committees are taking up the issue this week. The final language of the program could be drawn up as early as next week.