DC Council Makes Adults Over 21 Easier To Access Medical Marijuana

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A previous version of this article incorrectly reported that the DC Council had extended the city’s moratorium on foreclosures. The council voted to extend the deadline for requesting funds to avoid seizure and to add protection to prevent seizures while this request is pending. The article has been corrected.

DC residents ages 21 and older will soon be able to self-certify their eligibility for medical marijuana under a proposal passed by the DC Council on Tuesday, which also approved measures allowing certain minors to obtain certain vaccines. without the consent of their parents and another bill. give residents at risk of foreclosure more time to access new funds.

The cannabis bill marks the latest attempt by lawmakers to prop up the city’s medical marijuana industry, which they say has lost customers to more easily accessible marijuana “gift” shops based in the district.

Unregulated giveaway companies, which offer cannabis to customers as long as they buy another item like a sticker or poster, increased in number after 2014, when recreational use and possession of marijuana was banned. legalized in the district, but not sales. The contractors say the donation method offers a way around congressional restrictions that prevent DC from regulating its sale.

But DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and other lawmakers have criticized the district’s more than 40 marijuana gift shops, saying these ‘grey market’ businesses are driving residents away from seven regulated medical marijuana dispensaries. of the city, which are subject to taxes. In April, the council narrowly struck down a bill that would have allowed DC to levy steep civil fines on gift shops while allowing any adult resident to self-certify to obtain medical marijuana.

DC Council votes against bill targeting marijuana ‘gift’ shops

On Tuesday, the council unanimously passed an emergency bill that focused solely on the self-certification aspect. Mendelson argued that getting a practitioner’s referral for medical marijuana is cumbersome, creating delays for residents who need treatment — especially those who are uninsured or under-resourced. financial institutions, pushing them instead towards giving companies.

“Allowing patients to self-certify will provide a critical stopgap measure to help legal marijuana dispensaries retain and even win back medical marijuana patients from the illicit gray market,” reads the bill, which has was introduced by Board members Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5).

“Savvy business owners have pushed the legal boundaries of the giftware industry,” McDuffie said ahead of the vote. “I’ve had medical dispensaries contact me and my staff and say that if we don’t take this measure it could put their business at risk.”

In a statement, the i-71 committee, which defends the city’s marijuana donation businesses, said it backs a bill, in part because it increases access to marijuana “without harming people.” former cannabis operators in the process”. Earlier this year, the council passed a bill that allows residents 65 and older to self-certify for medical marijuana through September 30; anyone who self-certifies will be listed on the city’s medical marijuana registry.

Mendelson pledged to pursue tougher penalties against gift shops.

The council also passed emergency legislation on Tuesday that allows medical providers to vaccinate minors after seeking permission from a parent or legal guardian.

The bill, introduced by Council Member Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7), comes more than two years after the council approved a similar measure that allowed children as young as 11 to be vaccinated at without the knowledge of their parents – if a doctor determines that they are capable of giving informed consent. But last year, a federal judge barred DC from enforcing the law after parents said the legislation violated religious freedom.

“We believe this bill addresses their concerns,” Gray said.

Gray’s latest attempt says providers can offer children vaccines recommended by the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices as long as there has been a “reasonable” attempt to contact their parent or guardian. The bill provides exceptions for children who are homeless, emancipated or separated from their parents.

Councilman Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8), who opposed the original bill passed in 2020, also spoke out against the latest measure, saying a reasonable attempt to contact the parent or a child’s guardian did not go far enough to ensure that parents could have a say in the matter.

White was the only lawmaker to vote against the measure, which passed 12-1.

Judge bans DC from vaccinating children without parental consent

Lawmakers unanimously agreed to an emergency bill to extend the deadline for applying to the city’s Homeowners Assistance Fund (HAF), a funding pool aimed at helping those who have had difficulties with mortgage payments or other pandemic-related difficulties, from August 30 to September 30. 30.

While DC received $50 million to prevent foreclosures through the US Federal Bailout Act, Council member Janeese Lewis George (D-Ward 4), who introduced the measure with Mendelson, said the city launched the fund last week, a month late, meaning residents need more time to apply. The city’s pandemic-era foreclosure moratorium is set to expire Thursday.

The bill also protects homeowners from foreclosures after September 30 if their HAF application is pending.

“We need to do more to keep residents housed,” she said in a tweet.

The council also took the first of two votes on a bill introduced by McDuffie last year that excludes driver’s licenses from DC’s “Clean Hands” certification, which denies permits to residents and businesses that owe at least minus $100 to the city.

McDuffie has long argued that the certification is unfair, primarily hurting low-income DC residents who sometimes cannot renew their driver’s license due to outstanding debt from traffic tickets. His bill, which would take effect from fiscal year 2024, would allow residents to renew their driver’s license even if they are in debt. It also allows applicants to obtain Clean Hands certification as long as they have less than $5,000 in debt.

But several lawmakers, including Cheh, Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), Robert C. White Jr. (D-At Large) and Christina Henderson (I-At Large), pushed back on McDuffie’s proposal, noting it could simultaneously remove a way for the district to penalize reckless drivers at a time when road deaths are on the rise. Some of them expressed the wish to refine the bill before its second vote in order to strengthen the public security aspect.

However, the measure passed with 12 votes; Cheh voted “present”. All of these measurements will go to the office of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) for her signature.

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