Legal sale of medical marijuana coming soon to DC - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Legal sale of medical marijuana coming soon to DC

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WASHINGTON -

Occupying a distinguished-looking bright blue store front on North Capitol Street just off New York Avenue is a company called Capital City Care.

It is getting ready to open its doors in a matter of weeks. Capital City Care should be the first of four businesses in the city to begin legally selling marijuana.

"Some of them will be open by early spring and the rest of them will be opening throughout the rest of the year," says Morgan Fox of the D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project. "Qualified patients who have a doctor's recommendation will be able to purchase marijuana from these stores and take it directly home and use it in their homes."

But only if you live in the District. And only if you have any one of the four qualifying conditions: glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, cancer or multiple sclerosis.

"We really thought long and hard about this," says Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander. "But there are so many people out there that have chronic illness and we thought this was a good thing for the residents of the District of Columbia. They convinced us that this is working in other states, so we're going to give it a try in the District of Columbia."

Marijuana is still outlawed by the federal government, but now legal for medical purposes in 18 states.

Approved by 69 percent of District voters in a referendum 15 years ago, marijuana for medicinal purposes was delayed by congressional concerns and the need for tight restrictions.

"It had to be very, very tightly structured in order to make sure that it did not draw the ire of Congress," Fox says. "But now that it's going into effect, I think it provides an excellent example to show them how well these systems can work."

The program will be monitored by the D.C. Department of Health. Four dispensaries and six cultivation centers, where the marijuana will be grown, are to be licensed by the city.

"It's not a step toward the legalization of marijuana," says Alexander, chairman of the council's health committee. "It's solely for medicinal purposes."

But that decision was not unanimously applauded. During public hearings before the D.C. Council, some who live in the District expressed great concern about having marijuana sold - legally - in their neighborhoods.

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