Steve Michael, ACT UP/DC and medical marijuana patient

Washington, DC, Medical Marijuana and AIDS activist. Died 1998.

Steve Michael, age 42, founder of ACT UP/Washington, DC, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, died May 25, 1998 of AIDS. Michael’s partner of seven years, Wayne Turner, gave the order to disconnect Michael from life support after his condition severely worsened early Monday morning. Michael had spent almost four weeks in the intensive care unit at Washington Hospital Center for treatment of AIDS related pneumonia. Steve was an integral part of the Initiative 59 medical marijuana campaign in the capitol district. When the Initiative 59 votes were finally counted, I59 had won by 69%. However, as a federal district, Congress was able to block the measure from going into effect.

A political funeral was held June 4 in front of the White House. Turner made arrangments with federal authorities to hold Michael’s funeral, which would be his last White House protest. In lieu of flowers, donations should be sent to ACT UP/Washington, 408 “H” Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002. Turner asks that all DC area activists carry on Steve’s work. Visit ACT UP/Washington’s web site at, or call 202-547-9404 to become involved.

Congress blocked the vote count for a decade, and it was not until 2014 that medical marijuana dispensaries began to operate in the federal district. Soon thereafter, on July 29, 2014, D.C. Mayor Vince Gray signed the Medical Marijuana Expansion Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 — legislation that temporarily expands and improves upon the District’s medical marijuana program! D.C. physicians may now recommend marijuana for any debilitating condition they think would respond favorably to the therapeutic use of marijuana, and licensed medical marijuana cultivators may possess 500 plants. This legislation will expire on October 27, 2014.

Physicians may now recommend medical marijuana to those suffering from PTSD, chronic pain, and a host of other conditions that are currently not on the list of qualifying conditions, but that have been shown to benefit from marijuana. Increasing the number of plants regulated cultivators may possess ensures that our seriously ill friends and neighbors have access to the medicine their physicians think will work best for them. Although this legislation is only temporary, it gives the council the time it needs to enact a permanent solution.


Author, cannabis expert witness, journalist, artist