Access to medical marijuana delayed
D.C. residents seeking medical marijuana are unable to obtain a prescription in the city, despite the legalization of the drug last summer.
Difficulties in regulating the drug have caused delays in dispensaries being set up, D.C. Department of Health spokeswoman Mahlori Isaacs said.
"Due to legal litigation, it is unclear when medicinal marijuana will make it to Washington, D.C. depositories," Isaacs said.
Medical marijuana became legal in the District July 27, 2010, after Congress' allotted 30-day review period expired. If Congress does not touch a bill passed by the D.C. Council in that 30-day period, it automatically becomes law.
The D.C. health department is responsible for establishing the regulations needed to ensure the legal distribution of the controversial drug. Proposed rules for the cultivation and distribution of the drug are expected to take effect once they are published in the D.C. Register. Though this is expected to happen soon, there is no official date set at this time.
GW Hospital spokeswoman Heather Oldham said the hospital is unable to comment on whether or not it will be allowed to distribute medicinal marijuana.
Oldham said the hospital's lawyers are still attempting to figure out what changes the hospital would need to make in order to accommodate the law.
D.C. hospitals will be able to distribute the drug if they submit a dispensary registration application and are approved by the D.C. Board of Health, similar to any other dispensary, Issacs said. She added that hospitals will probably not qualify as cultivation centers due to difficulties in ensuring the security of the facility.
GW Hospital physicians will be able to recommend marijuana treatment for patients who qualify.
A medical marijuana certification provider, according to proposed rules, must certify businesses or individuals who want to distribute medicinal marijuana. To be certified, distributors must submit an application detailing facility's staffing, security, cultivation and product safety plan.
As of now, no dispensaries have been qualified by the DOH, Issacs said.
Only individuals with a recommendation from a Department of Health-registered physician will be able to use medical marijuana in D.C. Anyone who wants to obtain the drug for medicinal purposes must also provide a social security number and proof of residency in the District to be approved by the DOH.
Only D.C. residents will be able to obtain the drug here, so students who are not permanent residents of the District won't be able to purchase marijuana from D.C. dispensaries, even if they have permission to obtain the drug in states that already allow the use of medicinal marijuana.
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