WASHINGTON, D.C. – Having gained Congress’ nod of approval, the District’s Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act of 2010 has cleared its final hurdle. But considering that local officials now face the tasks of dealing with dispensary applications and establishing regulations, it’s likely to be early next year before the law goes into full effect.

According to Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who successfully push the bill into law on July 26, the issue cleared after Congress failed to intervene following a 30-day review period.

Norton said in a statement posted on her Web site hailing the bill’s passage it was the District’s business alone to decide how to help patients who live in the city and suffer from chronic pain and incurable illnesses. “The Council is to be commended for, not prohibited from, passing a model piece of legislation that allows patients to use controlled amounts of marijuana, for specific medical purposes and only through the written recommendation of a physician, to help improve their quality of life,.” Norton said.

With the District joining Maryland and 13 other states with such a law, the city can forge ahead in setting up between five and eight medical marijuana dispensaries. Qualified patients will be allowed to obtain up to 4 ounces of marijuana each month.

Rob Kampia, executive director of the Washington-based Marijuana Project, said after thwarting the will of District voters for more than a decade, Congress can no longer stand in the way of effective relief for D.C. residents who struggle with chronic ailments such as HIV, glaucoma and cancer . “This moment is a long overdue victory for both D.C. home rule and the well-being of District residents whose doctors believe medical marijuana can help ease their pain,” he said.