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District of Columbia Approves Medical Marijuana Reciprocity Program

Medical marijuana patients from legal states could purchase medicine from District dispensaries.

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Medical marijuana patients all across the nation may soon be able to purchase cannabis medicine while visiting the District of Columbia, according to a report from the Washington Times.

Earlier this week, the D.C. Council put is final stamp of approval on measure (Medical Marijuana Reciprocity Amendment Act) that would give medical marijuana cardholders living outside of the District the freedom to purchase cannabis from any of its licensed dispensaries. The proposal, which was introduced last year by Councilmember Yvette Alexander, will now go before Mayor Muriel Bowser for a signature.

Additionally, the bill stands to expand the District of Colombia’s medical marijuana program by eliminating the cultivation limits on local growers, and by giving more health professionals other than just physicians the ability to provide patients with certifications to participate in the program.

There is also a provision written in the language that would allow convicted felons to secure gainful employment at medical marijuana dispensaries. Previously, no one with a drug conviction was permitted to work in the District’s medical marijuana industry.

Currently, 25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the leaf for medicinal purposes, with the possibility of four more jurisdictions being added to the list in the upcoming election. As of now, none of the patients living in those states can purchase medicine while in the District, and traveling across state lines in possession of anything derived from the cannabis plant can get a patient arrested on drug trafficking charges.

“Reciprocity can actually help reduce transfer of marijuana across state lines as patients are not forced to bring medical marijuana obtained in their home states with them when they travel,” Kaitlyn Boecker, a policy coordinator with the Drug Policy Alliance, told the Times. “By allowing patients to purchase their medicine in the District, patients will no longer have to worry about violating federal law by transferring marijuana across state lines.”

As it stands, six other medical marijuana states -- Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Arizona and Maine – have various reciprocity programs in place.

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