DC's 57 not subject to California court restriction
ACT UP written initiative allows "not-for-profit" corporations to provide
marijuana to those with serious illnesses
For immediate release: December 14, 1997
contact ACT UP Washington at 202-547-9404
(Washington, D.C.) -- DC's Medical Medical Marijuana Initiative 57, sponsored by the local AIDS advocacy group ACT UP Washington, would not be subject to a recent Court of Appeals Ruling closing down the San Francisco 'Buyers Club.'

           In his opinion issued in California on Friday, December 12, 1997 United States Appeals Court Justice J. Clinton Peterson ruled that commercial enterprises like the San Francisco Buyers Club could not be designated as 'primary caregivers' by patients seeking legal access to marijuana for medical treatment.  Citing the text of Proposition 215 Judge Peterson said, "`If the drafters of the initiative wanted to legalize the sale of small amounts of marijuana for approved medical purposes, they could have easily done so.''
         DC AIDS activists, working with health care professionals and attorneys with the National Capitol Area American Civil Liberties Union, include in 57 a provision to allow DC residents to organize not-for-profit corporations to make available safe supplies of marijuana to qualified patients.

          States the sponsor of DC's medical marijuana initiative, ACT UP Washington's Steve Michael, who is HIV +, "We spent more than six months crafting the legislative text of 57, closing loopholes, and anticipating challenges."

          Sec 8 of Initiative 57 states that "Residents of the District of Columbia may organize and operate not-for-profit corporations for the purposes of cultivating, purchasing, and distributing marijuana exclusivly for the medical use of medical patients who are authorized by this act to
obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes."

       By licsensing and regulating what have commonly been called  'buyer's clubs' as not for profit corporations through the same agency that oversees the medical profession and hospital industry, the DC initiative protects the community from drug dealers, and will prohibit out-of-town price gougers from setting up Amsterdam-style hash bars in the District of Columbia.

         An all-volunteer coalition of local activists, including people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and glaucoma, the DC Green Party, the Statehood Party, the Umoja Party, Home Rule advocates, as well as  Democratic and Republican Party activists submitted approximately 20,000 signatures to the DC Board of Election and Ethics, in order to place ACT UP Washington's medical marijuana initiative on the ballot.  The Board of Elections has thirty days to validate 17,100 signatures.
        The local DC medical marijuana effort was opposed by former presidential candidate Republican Steve Forbes, drug czar General Barry McCaffery, the Family Research Council, and pro-drug legalization lobbyists backed by billionaire George Soros. None of Initiative 57's opposition was local.

        "We are proud of the hard work of all our volunteers, enduring countless hours in freezing temperatures.  Together, we have talked, one on one, with literally tens of thousands of DC residents, listened to their stories of AIDS and cancer" adds Wayne Turner from ACT UP Washington.  "Our team is empowered, and energized, and ready to hit the streets again."
 Initiative 57 is the only medical marijuana initiative written with a safe and legal distribution system built in.

           Support for the Initiative has been broad and deep.  More Washingtonians signed Initiative 57 than voted for the top two vote-getters in the recent special election for an open council seat.  Both the current Mayor, Marion Barry, Jr., and former Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly signed the Initiative.  A majority of the DC Council signed Initiative 57, as did DC's "shadow" Senators Florence Pendelton and Paul Strauss.

Read the San Francisco Chronicle article about the California ruling:
Recent court ruling closes Cannabis Buyers' Clubs (12/12/97)

For more information or to join the campaign to win with 57, contact:
Steve Michael or Wayne Turner
409 H Street, NE Suite 1
Washington, D.C. 20002-4335
Phone: 202-547-9404
Email: voteyes57@aol.com
Donations are strongly encouraged.

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