- Vox Populi » Judge finds that Epicurean worker has right to seek compensation in civil case on Epicurean faces multiple lawsuits from employees
- Nico Dodd on Critical Voices: Snoop Lion, Reincarnated
- Senior on Biracial student snubbed by Georgetown cultural society
- Asma on GenderFunk a crass caricature of a complex trans identity
- Brad M. Seraphin on Evading etymology eschews the excitement of English
Photos from Flickr
Medical marijuana delayed in the District
Despite the passage of D.C.’s new medical marijuana law in May, chronically ill patients in the District are likely to see their wait for medicinal cannabis extended even further. The city’s regulations are still in the process of being finalized.
District residents should not expect to start seeing licensed dispensaries until June 2011, according to Alan St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. D.C voters first approved medical marijuana in a 1998 referendum, but Congress had blocked the city from enacting the referendum until last spring.
St. Pierre thinks that dispensaries in the Georgetown area are likely to appear three to six months after the first licenses are issued in the city.
“The District such as it is, there’s going to be proverbial Ward , Georgetown blowback,” St. Pierre said. “There’s going to be some initial resistance to it for sure.”
Andrew Huff, director of communications for Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, declined to comment, citing Evans’ relative lack of involvement in the issue.
Nonetheless, Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Charles Eason said that he saw no reason to oppose the opening of a dispensary.
“It’s legal, and I think any legal business, we would welcome them,” Eason said. “As to how the Commission would react to an application, I’d say it would depend on the specific case. … With issues that are unique to that business, we would address them as we looked at the application, but that’s what we do when you want to open a bar or keep your bar open until 4 a.m. instead of 2 a.m. I don’t see any reason to put this into a special category.”
In August, the Georgetown Current reported that an anonymous individual was hoping to open a dispensary in Georgetown and had found a willing landlord. But Eason said that there has been no application to open a dispensary in the area.
“The last I’ve heard,” he added, “you’re only talking about five licenses for the whole city, so the notion that there would be more than one in Georgetown, I think is unrealistic.”
Unlike other states that have legalized medical marijuana, D.C. did not initially give its department of public health jurisdiction over marijuana regulation. The applications for licenses were originally put under the jurisdiction of alcohol regulators by outgoing Mayor Adrian Fenty’s administration.
Due to backlash from medical marijuana activists and potential patients, Fenty announced on Nov. 12 that he would create a new hearing board for the purpose of licensing and regulating medical marijuana facilities separate from but modeled on the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.
Activists still worry that this will further restrict patient access, St. Pierre said. Besides the tighter regulation, he warned that a new bureaucratic department will delay the licensing of cannabis retailers, as it has in New Jersey, where a host of restrictions exist.
“New Jersey law is currently such a malaise of problems getting off the ground that it’s going to be delayed at least a year after it was supposed to come into being,” St Pierre said. “And because the District of Columbia chose that model … they have inherently taken up the same delays.
Arthur Parker, rulemaking chief of the Office of the Attorney General, declined requests to comment because regulations are not yet finalized.