First marijuana growers in D.C. clear regulatory hurdles

by Tom Howell Jr., The Washington Times  |  published on December 28, 2012

marijuana growers

This time, there will be plants.

Fifteen years after voters gave the green-light to a medical marijuana program in the nation’s capital, a pair of locations approved to grow or sell the drug have cleared regulatory hurdles and will set up shop a few months into the new year, according to city officials.

A cultivation site in the Northeast quadrant of the city obtained its certificate of occupancy this month, meaning it can grow marijuana once the D.C. Department of Health completes a final inspection. It is one of six sites approved to grow the drug for medical purposes before it is sold at one of five dispensaries scattered across the city. One such dispensary, located just a mile north of the Capitol, also obtained its occupancy documents.

The development is significant because it means marijuana will be available to qualified patients after years of congressional interference and local rule-making. The application process among interested entrepreneurs took more than a year, and the majority of approved cultivation centers clustered in Northeast and dispensaries scattered across the District are still building out their sites and acquiring the necessary permits and business licenses.

“While the process has taken longer than anyone would have liked, I am pleased that we now appear to be only a few short months from the existence of a responsible, well-regulated medical marijuana program,” D.C. Council member David A. Catania, at-large independent who played a key role in the 2010 law that authorized the program, said in a statement announcing the developments.

Since 1996, when California voters approved medical marijuana in their state, 17 more states and the District have approved a program that uses the drug to aid the sick and dying. Voters in Massachusetts approved a program in November, although Arkansas voters rejected a similar ballot question.

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