Pubdate: Sat, 17 Mar 2012
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2012 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Jessica Philipps, California News Service
Note: The California News Service is a journalism project of the University
of California Washington Center and the UC Berkeley School of


Washington -- As federal prosecutors threaten to crack down on
California's medicinal marijuana sites, Washington is preparing to
open several dispensaries in the Justice Department's backyard.

This summer, residents will be able to buy legal cannabis at
dispensaries within a few miles of the White House, the FBI and the
Drug Enforcement Administration.

Cultivation centers are leasing space, and the city will decide who
will be able to open shops by the end of March.

"The DEA is based here. The drug czar's office is based here. How is
that dynamic going to work when some of these entities say marijuana
is not a medicine" with lawful medical marijuana dispensaries nearby,
said Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director at the National Organization
for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Washington's law will be stricter than California's. To purchase pot,
patients must be diagnosed with HIV, cancer, glaucoma or other
terminal or chronic illnesses and will be authorized to carry a
maximum of 2 ounces. They won't be allowed to smoke in public or at

The District of Columbia marijuana initiative, approved by 69 percent
of voters there in 1998 but repeatedly rejected by Congress, became
law after the City Council unanimously approved the measure in 2010
and Congress agreed not to stand in the way.

In stark contrast, the federal government's treatment of California in
recent months has been less cordial.

U.S. attorneys in California have ordered federal officials to close
dozens of dispensaries throughout the state, regardless of whether
they have been complying with state and county law.

San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego are among the cities where the
DEA has stepped up enforcement.

The Justice Department in the District of Columbia has not made any
moves to deter cannabis centers from setting up shop in its
legislative jurisdiction.

Justice Department officials declined to comment on Washington's new
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.