The U.S. House today passed legislation that removes a decade-old provision that has prevented Washington, D.C., from implementing the medical marijuana law passed by 69 percent of capital voters in 1998.
Known as the Barr amendment, the provision has forbidden the city from extending legal protection to qualified medical marijuana patients and has been derided by advocates for years as an unconscionable intrusion by the federal government into the District's affairs.
"Today represents a victory not just for medical marijuana patients, but for all city residents who have the right to determine their own policies in their own District without federal meddling," said Aaron Houston, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project. "D.C. residents overwhelmingly made the sensible, compassionate decision to pass a medical marijuana law, and now, 10 years later, suffering Washingtonians may finally be allowed to focus on treating their pain without fearing arrest."
Although Congress had passed the Barr amendment every year until now, the provision came under greater scrutiny after the high-profile case of Jonathan Magbie, a D.C. quadriplegic man who died in prison in 2004 from lack of medical care after being convicted for using marijuana to treat his pain.
"Had the District been able to implement its medical marijuana law when it passed in 1998, Mr. Magbie may well be alive today - and free to treat his pain as he and his doctor saw fit," Houston said. "Perhaps now nobody in the District will ever have to suffer as he and his family did simply for using the medicine that works best for them."
July 16, 2009 6:47 PM - WASHINGTON
CONTACT: Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
Dan Bernath, MPP assistant director of communications, 202-462-5747 ext. 2030