More medical marijuana growing sites in D.C.?

January 31, 2013

Last week, a D.C. company won final approval to start growing legal marijuana. (Rick Bowmer/AP)

The District is closer than ever to the sale of legal medical marijuana, with one dispensary ready to sell cannabis and another operation recently having gained final approval to grow it.

But the the effects on the community of medical marijuana remain a hot-button issue, and one D.C. Council member is renewing efforts to prevent “overconcentrations” of marijuana-growing sites in the city.

Five of six already approved growing sites are located in Ward 5, and its D.C. Council member, Kenyan McDuffie (D), is again proposing emergency legislation to cap the number of “cultivation centers” in any one ward. Under a draft circulated among council members and staff members Thursday, that cap would stand at six.

McDuffie previously pressed, successfully, for similar legislation, but it has since expired. The new legislation is needed, he wrote in a memo, because the District’s health department, which runs the medical marijuana program, “informed my office that it intends to solicit a new round of applications allowing for additional cultivation centers to operate within the District of Columbia.”

But Najma Roberts, a health department spokeswoman, said there are no immediate plans to license new growing operations.

“As we work to finalize the medical marijuana program we routinely review the need for additional cultivation centers and dispensaries,” she wrote in an e-mail. “We are considering re-opening for another round of apps, but right now there’s no definite timeline.”

The department, Roberts said, issued its first cultivation-center license last week, to Holistic Remedies on the 1800 block of Fenwick Street NE, in the Ivy City neighborhood. The operation is now free to start growing cannabis, which is typically ready to harvest two to three months after planting.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · January 31, 2013