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Medical Marijuana Group Sends Letter to DC Committee

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I received the following link in an e-mail from Safe Access D.C. (click here). I figured I would post it for everyone to read. It is a letter that was sent out today to the DC Committee on Health, which is overseeing the implementation of the medical marijuana bill, on suggested changes to the bill. If you are curious about what is happening on the front lines for medical marijuana in DC, it doesn’t get any fresher than this:

TO: The District of Columbia Committee on Health:
Honorable David Catania, At-Large, Chair
Honorable Mary Cheh, Ward 3
Honorable Tommy Wells, Ward 6
Honorable Yvette Alexander, Ward 7
Honorable Marion Barry, Ward 8

FROM: Safe Access DC — Local Chapter of Americans for Safe Access

DATE: March 30, 2010

RE: Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act of 2010

We would like to thank the Committee on Health for their work on the important task of carefully crafting medical marijuana legislation that serves the patient community. Like the members of the Committee on Health, we are vested in the District’s legislation ensuring the highest good for the residents. In that effort, we would like to address our concerns in the proposed amendments.

First, we are very concerned by the inclusion of For-Profit corporations. As patients, we want the businesses that operate the medical marijuana industry in the District of Columbia to serve only the patients interests and not shareholder interests. The Council has gone on record stating they intend to follow the best practices from other states. Yet only Colorado has for-profit corporations and there is current legislation pending before that state’s legislature which will force these corporations to change to non-profit corporations. We believe that allowing for-profit corporations to operate will potentially bring about Congressional interference as a result of the profit motive of these corporations, which are an intrinsic aspect of a completely legalized, non-medical, marijuana industry that this bill is not crafted to implement. Until other states have shown successful for-profit medical marijuana programs, the Council should refrain from changing what the voters originally approved.

Second, the continued employment restrictions on victims of America’s failed War on Drugs remains troublesome to members of Safe Access D.C. No other state has such onerous restrictions against citizens who have chosen their medicine in spite of the overly restrictive laws regarding cannabis. Had Congress not prevented medical marijuana in the District of Columbia, residents of the District with misdemeanor offenses would not be prevented from the employment opportunities provided in this new industry. The misdemeanor conviction should be removed or at least given a sunset. Patients who ignored the outdated law should not be treated as criminals through this legislation. Moreover, we believe language should be added to the legislation to prevent those who are and have been convicted of fraud and tax evasion.

Third, the members of Safe Access D.C. are also concerned by the amount of authority given specifically to the Mayor instead of the Department of Health. As patients, we feel that the Department of Health is the body most fit to make many of the rules that are current being conferred to the Mayor. Throughout our summary below we isolate places where we feel the department should be delegated this authority by the District Council.

Fourth, the Two (2) Ounce monthly limit goes against current research and should be devolved to the doctor-patient relationship. The Federal government’s IND Program, which currently gives medical marijuana to patients around the country, provides more medical marijuana than what is allowed in these regulations. While patients understand a 2-Ounce limit could be considered appropriate at a given moment in time, we also understand that for some patients more than this amount is required throughout the month and we suggest a maximum of 8 ounces per month.

Finally, these amendments only speak about the flowers of the cannabis plant and not derivative products that some patients find most useful. Patients require many forms of non-smokable medical marijuana in the form of edibles, tinctures, and other derivative medical marijuana products. Patients unable to smoke or vaporize their medicine must be allowed to ingest their medicine whenever and wherever safely possible. However, these amendments do not provide adequate protection concerning this important means of medication.

The members of Safe Access D.C. have reviewed the new amendments to the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act of 2010 and have the following recommendations in bold typeface:

Sec. 4. Restrictions on use of medical marijuana
AMENDED TEXT:
4(b)(1) Medical marijuana shall not be inhaled, smoked, eaten, ingested, or otherwise consumed by a qualifying patient anywhere other than the patient’s residence, if permitted, or at a medical treatment facility when receiving medical care for a qualifying medical condition, if permitted. A qualifying patient may not use medical marijuana at a dispensary or cultivation center.

SUGGESTED TEXT:
4(b)(1) Medical marijuana shall not be smoked by a qualifying patient anywhere other than a private residence, if permitted, or at a medical treatment facility when receiving medical care for a qualifying medical condition, if permitted. A qualifying patient may not use medical marijuana at a dispensary or cultivation center.

AMENDED TEXT:
4(b)(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) of this subsection, a qualifying patient may not use marijuana if exposure to the medical marijuana or the medical marijuana smoke would adversely affect the health, safety, or welfare of a child.

SUGGESTED TEXT:
4(b)(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) of this subsection, in child custody proceedings, the authorized use of medical marijuana as defined by this act shall not be considered a factor in determining custody of any child.

Sec. 5. Recommending physician; protections.
AMENDED TEXT:
5(a) A physician may recommend the use of medical marijuana to a qualifying patient if the physician:
5(a)(1) Is in good standing to practice medicine or osteopathy in the District of Columbia;

SUGGESTED TEXT:
5(a) A physician may recommend the use of medical marijuana to a qualifying patient if the physician:
5(a)(1) Is in good standing to practice medicine or osteopathy in the United States of America;

ALTERNATIVE TEXT:
5(a) A physician may recommend the use of medical marijuana to a qualifying patient if the physician:
5(a)(1) Is in good standing to practice medicine or osteopathy in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia;

NOTE: District residents who see physicians outside of the District of Columbia should not be forced to change doctors in order to obtain their medicine.

Sec. 6. Medical marijuana program.
AMENDED TEXT:
6(6) Revoke or suspend the registration of any person or entity if the Mayor determines that such person or entity has violated a provision of this act;

SUGGESTED TEXT:
6(6) Revoke or suspend the registration of any person or entity found guilty in a court of law that such person or entity has violated a provision of this act;

AMENDED TEXT:
6(10)(A) Allows qualifying patients to apply to the Mayor to be deemed eligible to purchase medical marijuana on a sliding scale from dispensaries; and
6(10)(B) Requires each dispensary to devote a percentage of its gross revenue, as determined by the Mayor, to providing medical marijuana on the sliding scale determined for each qualifying patient pursuant to subparagraph (A) of this paragraph;

SUGGESTED TEXT:
6(10)(A) Allows qualifying patients to apply to the Advisory Committee to be deemed eligible to purchase medical marijuana on a sliding scale from dispensaries; and
6(10)(B) Requires each dispensary to devote a percentage of its gross revenue, as determined by the Advisory Committee, to providing medical marijuana on the sliding scale determined for each qualifying patient pursuant to subparagraph (A) of this paragraph;

Sec. 7 Dispensaries and cultivation centers.
AMENDED TEXT:
7(c) A dispensary may distribute to a qualifying patient, either directly or through his or her registered caregiver, no more than 2 ounces of dried marijuana in a 30-day period, or a quantity determined by the Mayor through rulemaking;
7(d) It shall be unlawful for a dispensary to possess, or distribute more than the quantity of medical marijuana needed to support the number of qualifying patients or caregivers registered to receive medical marijuana at that dispensary; provided, that the Mayor may allow a dispensary to possess a higher quantity of medical marijuana in anticipation of additional qualifying patients or caregivers registering.

SUGGESTED TEXT:
7(c) A dispensary may distribute to a qualifying patient, either directly or through his or her registered caregiver, no more than 8 ounces of dried marijuana in a 30-day period, or a quantity determined by the Department of Health through rulemaking;
7(d) It shall be unlawful for a dispensary to possess, or distribute more than the quantity of medical marijuana needed to support the number of qualifying patients or caregivers registered to receive medical marijuana at that dispensary; provided, that the department may allow a dispensary to possess a higher quantity of medical marijuana in anticipation of additional qualifying patients or caregivers registering.

AMENDED TEXT:
7(g)(2)(C) Name of the qualifying patient or entity that authorizes the distribution of medical marijuana; and
7(g)(2)(D) Name of the caregiver or employee that receives the medical marijuana;

SUGGESTED TEXT:
7(g)(2)(C) The ID number of the qualifying patient, caregiver, or employee
7(g)(2)(D) REMOVE

NOTE: For the privacy of all patients, caregivers, and employees the use of ID number is sufficient protections

AMENDED TEXT:
7(g)(5) Any other information required by the Mayor.

SUGGESTED TEXT:
7(g)(5) REMOVE

AMENDED TEXT:
7(i) Each dispensary and cultivation center shall be either a for-profit or a nonprofit corporation incorporated within the District.

SUGGESTED TEXT:
7(i) Each dispensary and cultivation center shall be a nonprofit corporation incorporated within the District.

NOTE: The original language of Initiative 59 explicitly allowed only nonprofit corporations. It is the opinion of Safe Access D.C. that the for-profit corporations be prevented from operating in the District of Columbia until more states have successfully adopted regulations for the operations of for-profit dispensaries and cultivation centers. Furthermore, for-profit corporations may bring unwanted Congressional interference by allowing a profit motive that is only possible through the full legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. As legislation that is written to help the patients, a for-profit corporation is only responsible to make profits that benefit the shareholders of the corporation and not to help the patients of the District of Columbia.

AMENDED TEXT:
7(j) Each dispensary and cultivation center shall be registered with the Mayor prior to cultivating, possessing, or distributing marijuana.
7(k) No more than 5 dispensaries may locate in the District; provided, that the Mayor may increase the number to as many as 8 by rulemaking in order to ensure that qualifying patients have adequate access to medical marijuana.

SUGGESTED TEXT:
7(j) Each dispensary and cultivation center shall be registered with the department prior to cultivating, possessing, or distributing marijuana.
7(k) No more than 5 dispensaries may locate in the District; provided, that the department may increase the number to as many as 8 by rulemaking in order to ensure that qualifying patients have adequate access to medical marijuana.

AMENDED TEXT:
7(l)(1) A felony conviction; or
7(l)(2) A misdemeanor conviction for a drug-related offense.

SUGGESTED TEXT:
7(l)(1) A felony conviction;
7(l)(2) REMOVE

AMENDED TEXT:
7(q) A cultivation center shall not possess more than 95 living marijuana plants at any time.

SUGGESTED TEXT:
7(q) A cultivation center shall not possess more than 95 mature marijuana plants at any time.

Sec. 8. Board of Medicine review of medical marijuana recommendations.
AMENDED TEXT:
8(b) The Board of Medicine shall audit the recommendations submitted by any physician who provides more than 250 recommendations to patients for the use of medical marijuana.

SUGGESTED TEXT:
8(b) REMOVE

— 9th Circuit Court did not put a restriction on the number of recommendations they can write.
— SECTION A addresses this

Sec. 13. Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee.
AMENDED TEXT:
13(a) There is established by the Mayor a Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee (Committee) which shall monitor:

SUGGESTED TEXT:
13(a) There is established by the Department of Health a Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee (Committee) which shall monitor:

SUGGESTED ADDITIONS:
(c) Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee shall be composed of twenty-one (21) District residents:
1) One physician appointed by the Department
2) One physician appointed by the Department who has issued at least 10 medical marijuana recommendations
3) One patient from each Ward selected by their Councilmember (8)
4) One caregiver from each Ward selected by their Councilmember (8)
5) One non-profit corporation operating as a dispensary
6) One non-profit corporation operating as a cultivation center
7) One Chairman appointed by the Department

Sec. 14. Rules.
AMENDED TEXT:
The Mayor, pursuant to Title I of the District of Columbia Administrative Procedure Act, approved October 21, 1968 (82 Stat. 1204; D.C. Official Code § 2-501 et seq.), shall issue rules to implement and enforce the provisions of this act, including rules to:

SUGGESTED TEXT:
The department, pursuant to Title I of the District of Columbia Administrative Procedure Act, approved October 21, 1968 (82 Stat. 1204; D.C. Official Code § 2-501 et seq.), shall issue rules to implement and enforce the provisions of this act, including rules to:

AMENDED TEXT:
14(4) Limit the hours during which dispensaries and cultivation centers may operate; and

SUGGESTED TEXT:
14(4) Limit the hours during which dispensaries may operate; and

NOTE: Cultivation centers require 24 hour operation. To ensure pharmaceutical grade medical marijuana, cultivation centers cannot be restricted to arbitrary operational hours because indoor growing operations require 24 hour attendance. These facilities should be assumed to be operating 24 hours a day and not be restricted. Dispensaries should not be limited to hours any different than current pharmacies throughout the District of Columbia.

AMENDED TEXT:
14(d) Notwithstanding any provision in this section or any other District law or regulations, the Mayor may regulate the cultivation, distribution, dispensing, and use of medical marijuana as authorized in the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act of 2010.”

SUGGESTED TEXT:
14(d) Notwithstanding any provision in this section or any other District law or regulations, the department may regulate the cultivation, distribution, dispensing, and use of medical marijuana as authorized in the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act of 2010.”

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