A year after the District legalized medical marijuana, nobody is legally growing or selling it. Patients once thought they would be receiving the drug by early 2011, but bureaucratic delays and the city’s caution in implementing its drug law have caused some would-be patients and entrepreneurs to fume.
But things appear to be picking up. District regulators are forging ahead despite a recent Justice Department memo that has worried state medical marijuana program coordinators nationwide, and city officials on Tuesday said dozens of individuals and businesses will be allowed to apply for licenses to operate five dispensaries and 10 cultivation centers.
The city now expects patients to have access to medicinal marijuana, which advocates say can relieve pain and stimulate appetite, by May 2012.
“This is a very complicated process,” District Department of Health Director Mohammad N. Akhter said. “The community should be very pleased that we are moving forward with this and are doing things in a way that will make sure the program will be here to stay.”