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Public Hearing Shows Overwhelming Support For Reform Of D.C.'s Medical Marijuana Laws

The General

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At a joint committee hearing of the D.C. Council today, several public witnesses testified in favor of two new bills they believe would greatly improve the city's medical marijuana laws. The Committee on Health, chaired by Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), and the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, chaired by Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), held a joint public hearing to let the public weigh in on the proposed amendments. The first bill proposes an amendment that would allow any medical marijuana cultivation center to possess up to 500 living marijuana plants at any given time. Currently, cultivation centers are only allowed to grow 95 plants. A second bill would expand the list of qualifying conditions able to receive a medical marijuana recommendation to "allow physicians to determine whether a patient would benefit from medical marijuana treatment."

Under D.C.'s current medical marijuana laws, only patients suffering from HIV or AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, or severe muscle spasms are eligible to receive recommendations. Under the new amendment, which was introduced by Alexander and Council member David Gross (I-At Large), there would be no restrictions as to what conditions are eligible for a medical marijuana recommendation, instead leaving it to a doctor's judgement to determine if that's the best course of treatment. During the hearing, an overwhelming number of witnesses testified in support the amendment, many of whom were suffering from conditions that can be treated or helped by medical marijuana, but don't qualify under the current law. One of the main conditions witnesses said should at least be listed under qualifying conditions is epilepsy.

Ken Archer, a Greater Greater Washington contributor, said that his son suffers from epilepsy and has had "more than 2,000 seizures." A digestible form of oil extracted from a strain of cannabis–Archer says–helps his son's condition greatly. But, under the current law, his son's condition doesn't make him eligible to legally receive the oil. Despite the fact that THC has been proven to help control seizures in patients who suffer from epilepsy, it's still not under the list of qualifying conditions eligible to receive a recommendation.

Toward the end of the hearing, D.C. Fire and Emergency Services were called because a witness suffered a seizure. But while there was a great amount of support for the qualifying conditions amendment, the cultivation amendment received a mixed reaction from some witnesses, most notably Department of Health director Joxel García. García feared that, with only 412 people registered to receive medical marijuana and only three dispensaries in the city, those dispensaries wouldn't be equipped to handle cultivating that much marijuana. García also shared a concern that, if the limit was raised to 500 plants, all of the dispensaries would grow that much because they can. "It's like any other business," he said," you buy too much supply and there's no demand, the business goes south."


News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Dcist.com
Author: Matt Cohen
Contact: Contact: DCist
Website: Public Hearing Shows Overwhelming Support For Reform Of D.C.'s Medical Marijuana Laws: DCist
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