Pubdate: Sat, 17 Mar 2012 Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA) Copyright: 2012 Hearst Communications Inc. Contact: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/submissions/#1 Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/388 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 Journalism. MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES TO OPEN IN D.C. 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 dispensaries. 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 legislation. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.