There are perks to living in a country full of contradictions. Even though the federal government still has a ban on cannabis and officially classifies it as a Schedule I Controlled Substance, our nation’s capital and the homebase of that same federal government just implemented one of the most permissive medical marijuana reciprocity programs in the country.
The D.C. Council earlier this month voted unanimously in favor of the Medical Marijuana Reciprocity Amendment Act, a measure that will allow medical marijuana patients from out-of-state to use their recommendation cards to purchase pot inside the District, as reported by the Washington Times. The goal of the new law is to let patients visit the city without having to interrupt their marijuana treatment or break the law by trafficking cannabis in.
A committee report on the measure from last month reads: “Non-residents are not permitted to purchase medical marijuana under current law. This results in a complete barrier to access for non-residents that doesn’t exist for other medication.”
The bill has the potential to reverse some negative effects of the drug war, first by reducing crime in the area. “Reciprocity can actually help reduce transfer of marijuana across state lines as patients are not forced to bring medical marijuana obtained in their home states with them when they travel,” Kaitlyn Boecker, a policy coordinator with the Drug Policy Alliance, told the Times. “By allowing patients to purchase their medicine in the District, patients will no longer have to worry about violating federal law by transferring marijuana across state lines.”
In addition, the bill will change D.C. law to permit people convicted of cannabis-related felonies to work in dispensaries. As the law stands now, that’s not allowed. David Grosso, a District Council member and permissive drug law advocate, says this will be a major benefit of the law.
“As a city, we want to support our returning citizens’ reintegration into the community,” he said. “This is about racial justice and repairing the harms of the war on drugs. The data shows starkly how the criminalization of marijuana and other drugs disproportionately affected African-American communities in D.C.”
D.C. is not the only jurisdiction in the nation to have a marijuana reciprocity program. They’re joining the ranks of Arizona, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Rhode Island.
Photo via Flickr user ConstantinAB