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Posted at 06:59 PM ET, 07/07/2011

There’s money in medical marijuana

Drug liberalization advocates have always argued that the government could make more money by regulating and taxing marijuana than it spends pursuing, prosecuting and imprisoning those who use it. Looking at the District’s nascent medical marijuana program, it’s clear that they’re right — and cash-conscious city officials are likely to be very happy.

From May to June, over 80 individuals or groups sent in letters of intent to the Department of Health expressing their interest in applying for licenses to run some of the District’s planned five dispensaries and 10 cultivation centers. All told, the possible applicants — who can run only one dispensary but multiple cultivation centers, or a combination of the two — gave notice that they were planning on filing close to 170 applications for the 15 available licenses.

This is where the money comes in. Each license carries with it a hefty application fee — $5,000. (By comparison, a liquor license application runs $75.) If each and every applicant applied for each and every license they claimed they would, the city would take in close to $850,000 in application fees alone. And according to a new set of rules rolled out in April, applications that are rejected or withdrawn forfeit half of the application fee, leaving the city with almost $500,000 in revenue after the $2,500 is returned to all those who do not eventually get their hands on a license.

[Continue reading Martin Austermuhle’s post at]

Martin Austermuhle blogs at DCist. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By  |  06:59 PM ET, 07/07/2011

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