It’s unfortunate that chronic pain isn’t a qualifying condition under D.C.’s medical marijuana law because prohibitionists in Congress have been getting beaten up pretty badly lately (metaphorically, of course). Late yesterday afternoon, the District of Columbia Department of Health announced the prospective operators eligible to register as medical marijuana dispensaries and begin distributing medical marijuana to patients in the fall. The announcement comes on the heels of Rhode Island’s legislature passing a decriminalization bill, and both Connecticut and New Hampshire’s legislatures passing medical marijuana legislation.

Ironically, that means medical marijuana will soon be available just blocks from Congress, which is responsible for prohibition and for holding up D.C.’s program for more than a decade. Despite nearly 70% of D.C. voters approving a medical marijuana initiative in 1998, Congress put a hold on D.C.’s appropriations bill that prevented the District from implementing the law. That hold was finally lifted in late 2009, and the District has been slowly but surely putting regulations in place and licensing cultivators and distributors since.

In the end, four dispensary applicants made the cut, one of which will be owned and operated by a rabbi. The next steps are for cultivation centers to begin producing marijuana and for the District to begin accepting applications from patients with HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis whose doctors have certified them for participation in the program. The latest estimates are for the program to be up and running later this year.

Don’t worry all you ailing members of Congress; we’ll be working to expand the list of qualifying conditions soon enough.