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DC Council Approves Medical Marijuana Use

By Kamika Dunlap on May 10, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Washington D.C. city council has approved medical marijuana use and is set to join California and the 13 other states that already allow residents to legally obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes.

The District of Columbia Council approved a measure legalizing marijuana for medical use and now the bill goes to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to sign into law, the Washington Post reports.

If signed, Congress will have 30 days to review it before it becomes law.

The legislation approved by the D.C. council gives Mayor Fenty authority to establish up to eight dispensaries where chronically ill patients with a doctors' recommendation could receive four ounces of medical marijuana a month.

The original medical marijuana use bill restricted patients to no more than two ounces of marijuana in a 30-day period.

According to Federal surveys, the District is among the nation's leaders in pot consumption.

In the District, penalties for possession and distribution are strong enough to encourage discretion but too weak to be much of a deterrent. Those caught with small quantities of the drug could face up to a year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

So far, more than a dozen other states have legalized medical marijuana, as previously discussed.

A recent survey from the Pew Research Center found that some 73 percent of Americans say they support their state legalizing medical marijuana.

For example, New Jersey recently legalized medical marijuana, but with the strictest rules around medical marijuana of all states which allow it.

In California, doctors have wide latitude to prescribe marijuana for patients to be distributed through medical marijuana dispensaries. The state's 1996 law legalizing medical marijuana did not regulate dispensaries or set up means for distributing the drug, localities had to come up with rules on their own.

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