The 15-year struggle to legalize medical marijuana in the District ended like this: A 51-year-old Northwest resident entered a North Capitol Street rowhouse Monday evening and emerged 90 minutes later with slightly less than a half-ounce of street-legal, high-grade, D.C.-grown cannabis.
Shortly before 6 p.m., Alonzo walked into the high-security sales room of the Capital City Care dispensary with two store employees to consummate the city’s first legal marijuana deal in at least 75 years. He purchased about $250 worth of three strains of cannabis.
“It’s a beautiful natural product that is from rain, sun and soil,” Alonzo said, wearing a dark T-shirt with a green logo of a cannabis leaf over a medical cross. “Mother Nature doesn’t make mistakes.”
Alonzo agreed to share his experiences navigating the District’s medical marijuana system on the condition that he be identified only by his middle name, concerned that public knowledge of his medical marijuana use could prove sensitive at work.
Capital City Care’s sales Monday to two patients represent the culmination of a fight that dates to the mid-1990s, when HIV/AIDS activists first fought to put medical marijuana on the citywide ballot. Nearly 70 percent of voters approved a 1998 legalization initiative, but Congress intervened for more than a decade, preventing the implementation of a medical marijuana program.
After Congress lifted its restrictions in 2009, the District government started a slow process to set up a strict regulatory and licensing regime limited to city residents with specific chronic illnesses, with lawmakers and city officials saying they were moving deliberately to reduce the risk of future federal intervention.