Medical Marijuana on the Way in D.C.

Funding bill would allow D.C. to implement decade-old law

By Chris Needham
|  Thursday, Dec 10, 2009  |  Updated 2:26 PM EDT
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Medical Marijuana Could Be Coming to DC

Congress letting D.C manage its own business? What is the world coming to?

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Medical Marijuana Could Be Coming to DC

Get your medical bong ready.
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Medical marijuana could be legalized in D.C. if a giant government funding bill passes Congress.  House and Senate conferees have come up with a compromise conference agreement that would provide funding for most federal departments and agencies.  But unlike past years, there is no provision that would prevent D.C. from legalizing medical marijuana.

In 1998, D.C. voters approved a referendum that would allow the possession of and usage of medical marijuanaRepublicans in Congress swiftly blocked the referendum by placing a provision in funding bills that prevents D.C. from enforcing or implementing the law.  That provision has appeared each year until this year's funding bill.

The conference agreement must be adopted by the full House and the full Senate.  Neither chamber can amend the bill; it's a straight up-or-down vote.

The bill would also allow D.C. to begin a needle exchange program, as well as to use local funding to help low-income women receive abortions.

It's that last provision that's going to make passage trickier than usual.  Activists on both side of the issue are lining up and squawking.  The Post notes that 35 Republican Senators have already informed the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, that they will do whatever they can to block passage of a bill that alters current abortion policy.

It's not clear sailing for D.C. and its medical marijuana users yet, but D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said that "this is a great triumph for the District...[I]t will be hard to take this one out.  We're almost home free."

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