Washington, D.C., officials are trying to learn from what they consider cautionary tales from other jurisdictions as they try to create a medical marijuana program that strikes a delicate balance: allowing safe access to the drug for those who need it, while avoiding the kind of abuse by recreational users that would attract a backlash from Congress, the Washington Post reports.
D.C.’s City Council has been inundated with calls — from a Netherlands company offering indoor-growing technology to a California dispensary proposing a new franchise to the Drug Enforcement Administration asking for the latest legislative language — reminding members of the need to get this right. Said council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), the leading sponsor of legislation on the issue, “We have to be careful that we don’t have a system that creates more mischief than benefit.” More than a decade has passed since local voters approved a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for medical treatment. But it was not until December, with Democrats controlling Congress and the White House, that city lawmakers considered converting voter intent into reality. Catania’s bill, backed by most of his council colleagues, proposes five retail-style dispensaries throughout the city and prevents the shops from locating near schools or youth centers.