As of Friday, medical marijuana patients in the District of Columbia can get the most potent medicine available – up to 47 percent Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Up until now, Washington D.C.’s medical marijuana program only allowed patients up to 2 ounces of cannabis per 30 days. That all changed this Fall, when the District’s Department of Health created emergency regulations to allow for the legal production and dispensing of Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO) to a patient who requested the special tincture.
The patient, Robin Lewis, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia Refractory with an IDH1 Mutation which proved to be resistant to traditional Therapy. “I used the cannabis oil for its ability to compromise cancer cells so that they are more susceptible to radiation and chemotherapy, cell regeneration properties and to aid in the prevention of relapse,” he wrote.
The issue with getting Mr. Lewis his medicine was with the medicine calls for more plant than is legally allowed to be dispensed to one patient in a 30-day period. It took the cooperation of the local dispensary, the patient, his doctor, and the city to get Mr. Lewis the FECO. They worked together and passed emergency legislation to make it all possible on October 15th, 2015. This temporary rule expired on Thursday and on Friday the DOH published a new rule making the emergency regulation permanent.
In response to the permanent legislation, Mr. Lewis emailed me the following statement; “Humility and Pride best express the experience of participating in the legislative process with such a profound result. My sincere gratitude to Councilmember Yvette Alexander and her outstanding team, The Committee on Health & Human Services, Dr. Shauna White, Dr. Mikhail Kogan, The Takoma Wellness Center, Holistic Growers and many others who worked so diligently to help make this legislation and medicine a reality for myself and the residents of Washington DC.”
In an email, Ivan Torres, of the District of Columbia’s Department of Health explained to me how the new regulations will work.
“The regulation allows a qualifying patient through her/his recommending physician to petition the DOH Director for approval to possess more that the equivalent of two ounces of medical marijuana in a non- dried form. This is a formalized process in which the physician must demonstrate a medical need for the waiver. If the petition is approved by DOH, the patient will receive a letter that allows him/her to purchase and possess more than the two ounces of non-dried forms within a 30 day period.”
“Had the FECO been available earlier when I was diagnosed I would have most likely used it alone before any traditional treatment,” Mr. Lewis admits.
The new regulations only affect non-dried forms of cannabis, the allowance for D.C. patients’ remains up to two ounces per 30 day period.