Nearly a decade and a half after medical marijuana was approved by District of Columbia voters, a dispensary and a cultivation site have each obtained their required certificate of occupancy. Both should begin operations sometime during the first half of 2013.

The cultivation center is located in the Northeast section of D.C. and can commence growing medicinal cannabis once the chosen property passes a final inspection by the Department of Health. It is the first of six such cultivation centers formally sanctioned to grow marijuana for approved patients in the District of Columbia. Per regulations, plants must be at least 60 days old before they are harvested for medicine.


Also gaining an occupancy certificate was the first of ultimately five dispensaries that will actually provide the medical pot to patients – this one legally operating as VentureForth LLC and located on North Capitol Street (just a mile from the U.S. Capitol). Patients must obtain a written recommendation from a participating physician. They must also register with a specific dispensary in order to participate in the city's program.


Initiative 59, the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment, was passed way back in November 1998 with a resounding 69 percent of the vote. However, the then-Republican controlled U.S. Congress wasn’t about to permit medical marijuana in their backyard and denied funding.


The D.C. City Council passed legislation establishing a medical pot program in May 2010. Two months later, the then-Democratic controlled Congress allowed D.C. to implement the City Council law. The subsequent application process to approve cultivators and dispensaries has taken over two years, though it appears those patients in D.C. who've managed to hang in there will finally be able to properly medicate.

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