The District Of Columbia will begin accepting formal applications to grow or dispense medical marijuana Aug. 5, a significant step toward establishing the long-awaited program to aid the sick and dying, reports Tom Howell Jr. of The Washington Times.
Earlier this year, the D.C. Department of Health received 170 letters of intent — 64 for dispensaries and 106 for cultivation centers — from more than 80 separate entities, said agency Director Dr. Mohammad Akhter. City agencies vetted the letters of intent Tuesday, disqualifying 14 dispensary letters and 18 cultivation letters, Dr. Akhter said. That leaves 50 dispensary and 88 cultivation candidates to vying for five and 10 permits, respectively. Qualifying candidates have until Sept. 9 to submit their applications.
In February, Akhter promised the system would be up and running in 60 to 90 days. But concerns about federal or congressional intervention have slowed down the process.
“We’ve received information from the USDOJ, USAO expressing their concerns about this and we want to frankly be sure we acknowledge all the concerns that exist so that when we have a program to move forward it is sound as we can possible make it,” Mayor Vincent Gray said.
“The bottom line is we will be issuing licenses in the middle of December,” Akhter says.
Advocates counter that the process has stretched on too long and the regulations are too restrictive.
“The patients who are going to benefit from this program are fed up and are sick and tired of waiting. They’re sick of it. They want their medicine now,” says Adam Eidinger of the Medical Marijunana Service.
It’s been 13 years since D.C. voters approved medical marijuana, but legal blocks have slowed progress.