An Update on DC’s Move Toward Legalizing Marijuana

A store could be in business in time for the Cherry Blossom Festival.

By: Harry Jaffe

Congressmen who are in the market for medical marijuana can score a couple of ounces just a dozen blocks up North Capitol Street, once plans approved this week by DC’s permitting agencies come to fruition.

The store could be in business just in time for the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Beyond medical marijuana, the political winds here in the nation’s capital city are heading toward legalization of pot, which would put DC on a similar course as Colorado and Washington state.

This week the city issued “certificates of occupancy” for a marijuana cultivation center on 1840 Fenwick Street, Northeast, east of the US Capitol off of New York Avenue. The certificate also will allow the Holistic Remedies dispensary to operate a retail shop on 1334 North Capitol Street.

Both the cultivation center and the dispensary have to pass more inspections and certifications by the health department. The company can grow up to 95 plants under the law passed by the DC City Council in 2009.

The owners hope to complete construction and jump through all of the hoops by the spring. The city will allow patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma to buy marijuana through the program.

A half-dozen more companies have submitted plans to grow and sell pot.

But limiting marijuana to patients who can benefit from its ability to ease nausea and pain is not enough for Paul Zuckerberg. An attorney specializing in defending marijuana possession cases, he’s become an advocate for decriminalizing pot in the District.

This week Zuckerberg said he intends to run for an open seat on the DC council in a special election in April.

“If people want to go with the 12 council members they have up there, then stick with them” he told the Washington Post. “But change is a wonderful thing.”

He said there was a “tsunami” coming from the West, and DC should join it.

Running as a Democrat, Zuckerberg would have a decent chance of winning the at-large seat left open when Phil Mendelson was elected council chair. If he adds ethics and education to his platform, he could attract votes in all eight wards.

Speaking of Mendelson, the new chairman said there’s a good argument for decriminalizing marijuana, though he added: “I don’t think it’s the time for the District to be discussing that.”

Perhaps because Congress is likely to be riled up.

That never stopped council member Marion Barry, who also supports legalizing pot. That would get him off the hook if he needs pot for medical or recreational use. David Grosso, who assumes his council seat in January, also has advocated legalization.