After a long application and review process, the D.C. Department of Health announced today that four medical cannabis dispensaries have been approved and may now apply for business licenses and other regulatory requirements for opening. This announcement is welcome news to the District’s patient population, as it has been two years since the D.C Council approved the local medical cannabis bill, B18-622, in May, 2012.
Faith in the Public Safety of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries
At times during the application review process, some local community members raised concerns about the public safety of dispensaries coming to their community. The efforts of dispensary applicants, along with support from groups like Safe Access DC and a growing number of residents, demonstrated to community leaders and District officials that medical cannabis dispensaries are hardly a threat to public safety. ASA published a white paper which it distributed to community leaders and public officials. Moreover, yet another study suggests that medical cannabis dispensaries are not associated with increasing crime or violence, and may have crime-reducing effect.
Safe Access is on the Horizon in D.C.
Although D.C. voters first approved medical cannabis in 1998 – implementation of which was barred by Congress until 2009 – it will still be still be several months until D.C.’s licensed cultivation sites will be able to provide medicine to the approved dispensaries. Some are saying as early as August, although B18-622 co-sponsor David Cantania has estimated safe access to begin closer to year’s end. If you’d like to join the effort to create safe access to medical cannabis in the District, including urging the Department of Health to create a process to verify patient status, check out SafeAccessDC.org.