April 4, 2010

DC Medical Marijuana Limit Punishes Sickest Patients

April 4, 2010

Washington D.C. recently decided to limit its medical marijuana patients to 2 ounces per month, or as some media reports are saying, ‘one joint a day.’ The first question that came to mind when I heard the ‘one joint a day’ phrase being bounced around was ‘how much do those doobies weigh?!’ Here is a crash course in marijuana weights and balances (feel free to skip over the next 2 paragraphs if you hate math!):

An pound weighs 453.59237 grams. There are 16 ounces in 1 pound. 453.59237 divided by 16 equals 28.349523125 grams per ounce. Two ounces would then equal 56.69904625 grams. Now, divide that number by 28-31 days in a month, and you have doobies that weigh between 1.83 to 2.02 grams a piece! Not quite the size of an ‘Up in Smoke’ joint, but pretty sizeable nonetheless!

Now I know what some of you are thinking, ‘isn’t an ounce 28 grams?’ In the black market world of marijuana sales, yes an ounce is 28 grams due to the fact that an ‘eighth’ weighs 3.5 grams. Put 8 ‘eighths’ together and you have 28 grams. This is a marijuana market simplification, which after being perpetuated for decades, has resulted in marijuana consumers thinking that an ounce weighs 28 grams and a pound weighs 448 grams (28×16). However, get a pound of potato chips, a pound of tortillas, a pound of butter, etc., and you will see that the listed weight is 454 grams. Before you go accusing your supplier of shorting you, remember that you are dealing in an industry that is as old as time, and it comes with the territory!

Sorry for the mathematical ramble, I just wanted readers to know what we’re dealing with in this article. Regardless of how large the joints are in DC, the fact of the matter is that a two ounce per month limit is a joke. Some medical marijuana states have similar possession limits, but they also allow patients the right to grow the medicine themselves (except NJ). Also, the limits in those states are for ANY GIVEN TIME, not for THE ENTIRE MONTH. In a medical marijuana state (except NJ), you can deplete your supply and replenish it as many times as you want, so long as you don’t exceed the possession limit.

In DC, if patients run out of their medicine, they are out of luck. Considering that some patients need more medicine than others, and the sickest patients (who need it the most) are going to need the most medicine, wouldn’t DC want to lean toward the higher side of a limit? This legislation is only for terminal patients who undeniably need this form of medicine. There should be minimal worry for fraud in the program. Yet when you compare DC’s levels to those of medical marijuana states, you will see that they are at the bottom end of the limit spectrum. Keep in mind, these other states allow home cultivation, and allow their possession limits AT ANY GIVEN TIME, not for THE ENTIRE MONTH like DC.

State by state medical marijuana limits, in order of highest to lowest possession limits (if states were tied, the tiebreaker went to the state that allowed greater mature plant cultivation):

CaliforniaPeople v. Kelly, Case No. S164830 California Supreme Court, stated that any limits are unconstitutional. The new standard is ‘whatever is reasonable for the patient’s needs.’

Washington — 15 plants (any size). There is a 24 ounce possession limit per patient.

Oregon — 24 plants (only 6 mature). There is a 24 ounce possession limit per patient.

New Mexico — 16 plants (only 4 mature). There is a 6 ounce possession limit per patient.

Michigan — 12 plants (any size), but they have to be in an enclosed, locked facility (no outdoor cultivation). There is a 2.5 ounce possession limit per patient.

Rhode Island — 12 plants (any size; can’t be outdoors). There is a 2.5 ounce possession limit per patient.

Maine — 6 plants (only 3 mature). There is a 2.5 ounce possession limit per patient.

Vermont — 9 plants (only 2 mature). There is a 2 ounce possession limit per patient.

Colorado – 6 plants (only 3 mature). There is a 2 ounce possession limit per patient.

Hawaii — 7 plants (only 3 mature). There is a 1 ounce possession limit per patient.

Nevada — 7 plants (only 3 mature). There is a 1 ounce possession limit per patient.

Montana — 6 plants (any size). There is a 1 ounce possession limit per patient.

Alaska – 6 plants (only 3 mature). There is a 1 ounce possession limit per patient.

New Jersey – Patients are not allowed to grow their own marijuana; they are allowed to purchase medical marijuana via state licensed dispensaries, and possess up to 1 ounce. State licensed dispensaries are tentatively scheduled to begin in 2010.

In Oregon, where I am a registered medical marijuana patient, we started out the program with a 1 ounce limit and a 7 plant (3 mature) limit. It didn’t take long to realize that those limits penalized the patients who needed the medicine the most. Now, I will entertain the fact that with an additional doctor’s note, patients can get higher limits. However, these are terminal patients who are suffering; why should they have to jump through more hoops? Isn’t that what medical marijuana is all about; helping suffering patients?

What’s even worse, when Oregon was having problems due to the low limits, at least patients could grow it for themselves and replenish their supply; something that DC isn’t going to do. I predict they are going to have more problems than Oregon did starting out, for the previously mentioned reasons. However, I will respect the fact that you have to start somewhere, and SOME medicine is better than NO medicine. BUT HEAR THIS all of you on the ground in D.C.; STAY ACTIVE! KEEP PUSHING FOR HIGHER LIMITS! KEEP PUSHING FOR ADDITIONAL CONDITIONS! KEEP PUSHING FOR THE RIGHT TO GROW YOUR OWN MEDICINE! I promise that your efforts will be well worth it.

Photo by davesnotthere.com


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