WASHINGTON, DC — More than fourteen years after voters in the nation’s capital authorized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, the first medical marijuana dispensary is finally set to open in Washington, D.C.
Over 70% of voters approved the city wide referendum allowing medical marijuana in 1998. The program has since been waylaid by Congress, which spent years blocking funding, as well as by a 3 year regulatory process for dispensaries which was only recently completed.
Now, it seems, the wait may finally be over.
Capital City Care on North Capitol Street is one of four medical marijuana dispensaries slated to open soon in the District.
Dispensary general manager David Guard said that when Capital City Care opens in early April, the nation’s first medical marijuana dispensary will be the strictest, most tightly regulated in the country.
Security measures include the verification of cardholders’ ID with a patient database, and the dispensary will be well equipped with surveillance cameras and bio metric locks preventing access to unauthorized areas, including marijuana storage areas.
But for suffering patients, the regulations are a welcome change to the black market, and many stop by the dispensary in the hopes that it will be open.
“We get knocks on the door almost on a daily basis now,” Guard said. ”
Guard added that in addition to providing terminally ill and suffering patients with medicine, the dispensary’s opening will also “help clean up a blighted neighborhood.
“Things are about to change in D.C. for the better,” he said.
The dispensary is located less than three miles from the FBI headquarters building.
Under the law, D.C. Health Department officials will oversee the creation of as many as eight facilities to dispense medical cannabis to authorized patients. Qualifying D.C. patients will be able to obtain medical cannabis at these dispensaries, but are not be permitted under the law to grow their own medicine.
Only residents of the District will be allowed to purchase up to two ounces of marijuana from the dispensaries each month, and transactions will be subject to the District’s sales tax.
In addition to Capital City Care, at least three other medical marijuana dispensaries — Herbal Alternatives, Metropolitan Wellness Corporation, and Takoma Wellness Center — are expected to open this year.