WASHINGTON --- The District Council will hold its second reading Tuesday on a bill to regulate and enact Initiative 59, the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative. The District Council voted unanimously on April 20th to approve the bill’s first reading. The second reading will be the last opportunity to amend the bill before the final vote. In anticipation of Tuesday's hearing, and to urge additional amendments, advocates and patients will hold a press conference Monday at Noon.
What: Press conference to highlight needed changes to D.C.’s medical marijuana law
When: Monday, May 3rd at Noon
Where: District Council, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
Who: ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer, Tom Kujawski of the National Association of People with AIDS, and seriously ill D.C. patients
"After more than 11 years, we're excited to see D.C.'s medical marijuana bill finally take effect," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group, which will be hosting the press conference. "However, we're urging the District Council to correct a few problems the bill has with meeting patients' needs." The press conference will be followed by patient lobbying visits to the District Council members.
Advocates are insistent the bill include civil protections for patients so that they are not denied employment, housing or other critical needs. "Patients are concerned that being prevented from cultivating their own medicine and being limited to 2-ounce per month will not meet their needs," said Sherer. "Another provision in the bill that allows for the licensing of for-profit dispensaries would appear to place the needs of shareholders over those of patients."
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"I can sleep again and I look like my old self prior to cancer," said Debbie Salmi, a metastatic breast cancer survivor who will be speaking at the press conference and testifying before District Council. "But, my civil rights and my ability to easily access this important medicine are crucial components that must be part of the District Council's bill."
The Congressional ban against implementing Initiative 59, which was approved by 69% of District voters in 1998, was lifted in December and the District Council has moved swiftly to implement the law. The "Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Amendment Act of 2010," was co-introduced by District Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) and Councilmembers David A. Catania (I-At Large) and Phil Mendelson (D-At Large).