Roadblock for DC’s Medical Marijuana Legislation
Last week, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) announced the introduction of legislation disapproving the D.C. city council’s approval of the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Chaffetz said in a statement, “I am opposed to legislative and legal efforts to reclassify or decriminalize the use of marijuana. Marijuana is a psychotropic drug classified under Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act as having ‘high potential for abuse,’ ‘no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,’ and a ‘lack of accepted safety for use of the drug…under medical supervision.’ While certain of these principles may be open to significant debate within segments of the medical community, and among pro-legalization/decriminalization groups, I am opposed to re-classification and decriminalization efforts. And while derivatives of marijuana are available in pill form for medicinal purposes, smoked marijuana is a health danger, not a cure, and therefore remains a harmful and dangerous drug for people of all ages.”
Given the Democratic control of the House, Senate, and White House, his disapproval stands virtually no chance of passing. Mike Meno, communications director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the nation’s largest marijuana reform policy organization, said, “This is a law that applies to local residents in D.C., and has nothing to do with the state of Utah. [Chaffettz is] grandstanding for people back home, who might be opposed to the idea of medical marijuana.”
The efforts of Chaffetz would seem to contradict the sentiments of the majority of D.C. area citizens, who approved a medical marijuana referendum by 69 percent in 1998 — scuttled by another out-of-state representative, Georgia Republican Bob Barr. Meno believes that Chaffetz’s disapproval ultimately “won’t do anything to block the implementation in Washington, D.C.”
Still, Chaffetz, the ranking Republican on the House committee that oversees the District, will doubtlessly attempt to insert prohibitions in the city’s budget along the way.
The legislation legalizing marijuana for medical purposes in the District was submitted to Congress on June 4, and is expected to make it out by late July. Once the system is in place, anywhere from five to eight dispensaries around the city will offer qualifying patients small amounts of marijuana for treatment of various ailments.