D.C. medical marijuana program set to launch

Nearly a year after its approval, the District of Columbia's medical marijuana program will go into effect on April 15, Mayor Vince Gray announced Thursday.

The time between the program's approval and it taking effect has had potential patients and the D.C. Patients’ Cooperative pressing the mayor’s office for action.

The statute was approved in May 2010, and the D.C. Council approved the medical marijuana regulations in January of this year. But the rules couldn’t take effect until Gray signed off on the regulations, which languished on his desk for months.

The Cooperative wrote letters to Gray for months urging him to sign off on the program.

Applications for people interested in opening a dispensary or cultivation center will be available on April 17.

The rules allow for five dispensaries and ten cultivation centers in the District and a maximum of 95 plants per operation. Some hopeful growers estimate they will sell the product for roughly $3,000 a pound.

It will be available with a prescription for people suffering from illnesses like HIV/AIDS, cancer and glaucoma.

The Cooperative says the District’s program will be more restrictive than similar programs in other states and there will be significant fees for licensing and registration.