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February 22, 2010

GLAA supports medical marijuana bill

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.
P.O. Box 75265, Washington, D.C. 20013
Monday, February 22, 2010

Testimony for the Record on B18-0622,
“Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Amendment Act of 2010”


Committee on Health
Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary


Dear Councilmembers Catania and Mendelson and committee members:

GLAA supported Initiative 59 in 1998, and we support Bill 18-0622 today. We thank co-introducers David Catania, Phil Mendelson, and Vincent Gray, as well as co-sponsors Yvette Alexander, Kwame Brown, Michael Brown, Mary Cheh, Jack Evans, Jim Graham, Harry Thomas, Jr., and Tommy Wells. Thank you for scheduling public hearings.

I-59 was carefully crafted by Steve Michael and Wayne Turner, as Turner recounted in the Feb. 21 Washington Post, “to allow seriously ill people, such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or those suffering from AIDS-wasting syndrome, to use medical marijuana under their doctor's supervision.”

After Michael’s untimely death, Turner led the Initiative to overwhelming passage. Unfortunately, the Barr Amendment prevented its implementation for more than a decade. With Bill 18-0622, the Council fulfills the intent of I-59 to help the seriously ill without promoting recreational use of the drug.

Regardless of what one thinks of the government’s use of public resources to criminalize and punish the recreational use of marijuana, Turner is right: “It would be a grave mistake to unnecessarily provoke further congressional interference by creating a system vulnerable to abuses. The council's plan represents the best chance to implement medical marijuana and to protect those patients whose quality of life may depend upon this medication of last resort.”

We commend Mr. Turner for his clear-eyed leadership on this issue and his determined focus on the medical purpose that won the city’s support so many years ago. For all those whose suffering can be alleviated by the properly supervised use of medical marijuana, and for the sake of upholding Home Rule, we urge the Council to pass this bill.

Thank you.

Rick Rosendall
Vice President for Political Affairs

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