Medical marijuana: D.C. lawmakers may require discount to low-income patients

WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- Medical marijuana is legal in the District – but it doesn't come cheap.

If you're living on $800 or $900 a month, $420 for an ounce of marijuana is likely not something that is in your budget. And most patients need up to two ounces a month.

After a 10-year fight to get marijuana legalized for medical purposes in the city, there is a move among D.C. lawmakers to require city-regulated dispensaries to offer a 20-percent discount to low-income patients who have been prescribed the drug by a doctor.

Brian Smith’s uncle has been cleared by doctors to use medical marijuana. He says the drug is helpful, but the cost is steep:

“He would smoke and then he would have an appetite to eat. It's for people who need it the most with chronic pains."

Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn owns and operates one of the three licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. It opened just three weeks ago and according to Kahn, many patients are struggling to pay for their monthly trips there.

“We wish insurance covered it like every other medication so people wouldn't have such ridiculous out-of-pocket expenses,” he said.

There are opponents of the discount, but they are mostly those who felt marijuana shouldn't be legalized in the first place under any circumstances.

But many people ABC7 talked with on Monday felt differently:

"There are other medications that are just as expensive for people who need them, so if this a legitimate medical need for someone I don't have a problem with it," said Francisco Delachesnaye.

"I'm all for it if this is for medical purposes only, sure," added Brittany Bell.