Vincent Gray

Physicians in D.C. Will Determine Patients’ Eligibility for Medical Cannabis

Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray recently signed B20-0876, the Medical Marijuana Expansion Emergency Amendment Act of 2014.

Gray took the bold step of signing the emergency legislation which puts physicians in charge of determining who should use cannabis for medical purposes throughout DC. The emergency legislation, which was unanimously approved by the D.C. Council earlier this month, eliminates the limited list of conditions that a patient must have to legally access medical cannabis, as well as increases the plant limit at cultivation centers from 95 to 500 plants.

Previously, D.C. limited use of medical cannabis to four conditions. With the signing of the emergency legislation, DC now joins Massachusetts and California as the only current medical cannabis states that allow physicians to determine which patients should use medical cannabis. Pennsylvania and Florida residents will vote on similar legislations that, if approved, would give physicians power to recommend individuals who would benefit from treatment with medical cannabis.

Over the past four years, the Safe Access D.C. chapter was very helpful in organizing patient meetings and testifying at hearings to help bring these changes in the law.

In D.C. law, Congress must approve legislation before it is considered permanent legislation. The bill was passed as emergency legislation, in order to implement it immediately. Typically, when the District passes a law, it must undergo a Congressional review period of 30 or 60 days; however a short-term legislation that goes into effect immediately upon the signature of the mayor can be enacted, but it only stays in effect for 90 days.

With the mayor’s signature, B20-0876 went into effect on July 31st. In order for the law to continue to remain in effect, the District must eventually pass permanent legislation.

Last updated: 8/5/14; 2:15pm EST