DC’s First Medical Marijuana Collectives Get Approval

 by lucy

In April, four medical marijuana collective hopefuls advanced to the next round of screening to determine whether or not they would be allowed to open in the District.  Having come from an initial group on 17 applicants, these four potential dispensaries moved on to be reviewed by a panel for approval by advisory neighborhood commissions, depending upon their proposed locations.

As of yesterday, all four collectives have been approved by the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) to move forward with the process of obtaining building permits and finalizing their plans to open.

ANC 6B voted unanimously almost a month ago to approve the Metropolitan Wellness Center’s application for a dispensary on Barracks row, a commercial area on Capitol Hill, to open above a Popeye’s Chicken restaurant.

Then, ANC 2B followed suit, allowing Herbal Alternatives dispensary to set up shop in an office building in the West End.

Weeks later came the voted for ANC 4B, where the collective was approved with a vote of 6-2, on the contingent that the dispensary owner, Rabbi Jeffrey Khan, sign an agreement to have on-site security at the location during its operating hours.  This decision came after community and ANC members expressed concern that patients could be at risk of being robbed as they leave the dispensary.

Another proposed collective in Center City did not receive approval from ANC 5C, but the city’s health director, Mohammad Akhter chose to make it eligible for operation anyway.  Under the rules of the city’s medical marijuana program, ANCs cannot completely prohibit a proposed dispensary, but their comments on how it could impact the community can influence the applicant’s standing.  Akhter stated that these new approvals of collectives demonstrates “the District’s commitment to provide patients who are suffering from very specific conditions that require solutions to help alleviate their pain.”

Now that these collectives have been approved, they must obtain licenses.  At that point, they will be able to open their doors and sell up to two ounces of medical marijuana to patients on a monthly basis.

In addition to these four collectives, six cultivation centers have already been approved in the District.  However, none of those cultivation centers have began growing marijuana, which means that the collectives will be put on hold until they have medicine to provide their patients.

With the dispensary and cultivation center selection process having come to a close, Washington DC medical marijuana patients are closer than ever to having safe, simple access to their medicine.  DC’s medical marijuana law was approved by voters in 1998, and it is hoped that collectives will be up and running by the beginning of 2013.



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