On Tuesday, Yvette Alexander, District of Columbia Council member for Ward 7, introduced the Medical Marijuana Expansion Amendment Act of 2014. The bill would amend the previous qualifying conditions list restricting D.C. patients’ access to medical marijuana. Currently, a doctor can only recommend medical marijuana for four conditions (HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, and multiple sclerosis).
Marijuana has been found to help treat a wide variety of conditions beyond those that qualify a patient for the D.C. program. Alexander’s bill would strike out the qualifying conditions list altogether and permit the physician to make the decision as to whether or not medical marijuana would benefit a patient. This way, doctors wouldn’t have to be constrained by politics or wait for government officials to pass laws every time new benefits are discovered.
According to an NBC Washington report, all 13 Council members are in favor of this amendment. Even the Health Department Director, Joxel Gracia, testified that recommending medical marijuana should be up to doctors instead of government officials.
D.C.’s prohibitive medical marijuana laws have been largely ineffective, only protecting about 250 patients of the estimated 40,000 eligible patients living in the District since the current law went into effect in 2013. However, the bill would amend neither the rules governing the heavily regulated process by which a patient acquires a medical marijuana card, nor the rules controlling cultivation and distribution
Hearings on the new medical marijuana bill are likely to begin in early May of this year, with a vote following soon after.