Proposed marijuana dispensaries scattered around D.C.

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Television personality Montel Williams wants to set up a medical marijuana dispensary in Adams Morgan as one of 17 applicants vying to set up shop in and around notable neighborhoods of the District.

A panel set up by the D.C. Department of Health will select five dispensaries from the pool of applicants, who list potential sites near Eastern Market, Dupont Circle, Shaw and the H Street corridor in a bid to be on the ground floor of the District’s burgeoning yet tightly regulated program.

Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat whose ward is listed as the host for several proposed sites, said he has no fundamental opposition to the medicinal marijuana business.

“It’s on an individual basis,” he said of the applicants. “I can’t make a sweeping generalization.”

The proposed sites reflect a greater dispersement of locations than the 28 applicants hoping to grow the drug at a cultivation center, for which 27 proposed sites are in Northeast because of zoning restrictions.

A quartet of the applicants for dispensaries list a parcel of Ward 5, in and around “Ivy City,” as their desired location, according to documents obtained by The Washington Times through the Freedom of Information Act.

The addition of proposed sites in the cluster near strip clubs and manufacturing sites could stoke further reservations in Ward 5 about the production of marijuana in their communities, despite the program’s compassionate intent.

Mr. Williams, who spoke at one of a series of community meetings aimed at informing the public on the program’s intent, wants to open a dispensary at 1815 Columbia Road in Northwest as part of the multi-partner Abatin Wellness Center, according to the application.

Only one applicant asked for a dispensary east of the Anacostia River. Alicia Hines of the Natural Herbal Dispensary proposed a site near Good Hope Road and Interstate 295 in Southeast.

With the application period closed, the city should begin its selection process and implement the medical marijuana program that is more than a dozen years in the making.

The District approved its program by a referendum in 1998, yet congressional interference forced it to wait for more than a decade to move on the initiative.

The city is rolling out its licensing program for its 10 cultivation centers and five dispensaries in a careful manner, hoping to avoid the legal stumbles that prompted federal prosecutors to roll back similar programs in states across the nation.

In its application materials, the city inserted a section that requires applicants to state in writing that they assume the risk of federal prosecution for growing or distributing the drug and that they cannot hold the city liable for arrests.

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