But by spring, the townhouse at 1334 N. Capitol St. will make a bolder statement by becoming a symbol for the District’s leap into the growth and sale of medical marijuana.
“You can look out and see the dome of the Capitol,” said David A. Guard, the general manager of the Capital City Care dispensary, as he gave a Washington Post reporter a tour of the 2,000-square-foot office. “We want to set a precedent and want the country to see what medical marijuana can and should be.”
As early as February, some District residents will be able to enter the townhouse by showing proper identification to a security officer. They will be escorted to a brightly lighted office with brick walls and bamboo flooring.
The patients will have their prescriptions for marijuana — an illegal substance under federal law — verified by a receptionist. Then patients can consult an iPad in the office’s waiting area to review six strains of high-quality cannabis.
When they are called, patients will walk past a security guard in a glass-enclosed room scanning video from security cameras.
At another counter in the rear of the office, patients will then purchase — cash or credit — up to two ounces of medical pot help relieve pain, nausea or muscle spasms. Patients also will be able to buy water pipes, vaporizers or cigar pipes to inhale the drug in an adjoining showroom.
The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs gave Capital City Care approval in December to open once it receives a final inspection from the Department of Health.
In the coming weeks, another four dispensaries are expected to receive certificates of occupancy. They will be supplied by cultivation centers that can grow up to 95 marijuana plants at a time.
So far, the city has selected four cultivation centers. One of them, Holistic Remedies on Fenwick Street Northeast, also received its certificate of occupancy in December. It can plant its first crop after it receives a final inspection from health officials.
The pending openings mark the end of a laborious political and planning process that stretches back more than a decade. At the same time, the dispensaries and cultivation centers will test current and future federal administrations’ tolerance for the sale of medical pot in the District.
“We have had some false starts and [it] has not gone as quickly as we would have wanted, but it’s the price we pay for being cautious and thorough,” said Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), the outgoing chairman of the council’s health committee. “I want this to start slowly.”
In a 1998 ballot referendum, 69 percent of District voters supported the creation of a medical marijuana program. But city leaders ignored the vote, fearing a then-Republican-controlled Congress would intervene or withhold funding for the city over the implementation of the program.