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D.C. Council unanimously backs medical marijuana in preliminary vote

The legislation also says distributors cannot grow more than 95 marijuana plants at a given location, an apparent effort to keep dispensers within federal law that heightens penalties on anyone arrested with at least 100 plants.

Some growers expressed concern over the provision, citing the lack of a profit after one invests in the equipment needed to produce high-quality marijuana.

"There is no way a facility with 95 small plants can create pharmaceutical grade marijuana," said one grower, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he might be in conflict with federal law. "It's like you custom-building a car at home -- it would cost you a half-million dollars to do that."

DeAngelo said the 95-plant rule is similar to one imposed in New Mexico, where he said the limit has made it impossible for suppliers to keep up with demand.

Although the legislation says a dispensary cannot be placed within 300 feet of a school, the Department of Health and zoning officials will have to develop regulations outlining more specifically where the facilities can be located.

Deborah Thomas, an ANC commissioner for the U Street neighborhood in Northwest Washington, said she opposes dispensaries in her neighborhood.

"We are just getting to a point where our neighborhood is getting cleaned up, and to add that to the mix, that would set us back," Thomas said. "We already have teens smoking marijuana . . . what is to say someone is not going to walk out of that door and sell the marijuana, or what's to say the teens won't rob them?"

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