Ward 6 Medical Marijuana Dispensary Comes before ANC 6B
by Larry Janezich
At last night’s ANC 6B ABC Committee hearing, chaired by Commissioner Carol Green in Southeast Library, Vanessa West, General Manager of the Metropolitan Wellness Center, made a brief presentation to Commissioners as they prepared to answer questions posed by the DC Department of Health as part of the review and certification process for medical marijuana dispensaries. Metropolitan Wellness Center, which is proposing a dispensary at 409 8th Street, SE, on Barracks Row, is one of four dispensaries with an active application before the city, and it is the only one in Ward 6.
Commissioners posed many questions to Ms. West regarding the process by which the dispensary’s product and transactions would be safeguarded. Also present at the meeting were several neighbors, who acknowledged the efforts of Mike Cuthriell, founder of Metropolitan Wellness, to assuage neighbors’ concerns, but pressed Commissioners to remain vigilant in their oversight and consideration of the dispensary.
Unlike alcoholic beverage licenses, where the ANC works to craft a voluntary agreement with the applicant and records an up or down vote on the license, its renewal, or any exceptions to it that ABRA then takes under advisement in its approval process, the dispensary’s application will not go before the ANC for an up or down vote. Instead the ANC is charged with supplying answers, in narrative form, to DC’s Department of Health regarding the “potential adverse impact” of the dispensary on the surrounding neighborhood; the local of the dispensary relative to others; and its proximity to substance abuse treatment centers, day care centers, and halfway houses.
Commissioner Ivan Frishberg volunteered to draft the ANC’s response, which will most likely be voted on during the ANC’s meeting on Tuesday, May 8.
The District of Columbia passed a medical marijuana law, widely recognized to be the most stringent in the nation, in 2010. Neighbors and Commissioners, as well as the Metropolitan Wellness Center, recognized that, in dealing with the first round of applicants under a new law, this was new territory that merited close attention.