Medical Marijuana Approvals Clustered in Ward 5; Concerns Neighbors Lacking Council Voice

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 10, 2012 | Go to article overview

Medical Marijuana Approvals Clustered in Ward 5; Concerns Neighbors Lacking Council Voice


Byline: Tom Howell Jr., THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Before he resigned and admitted to stealing $350,000 from the District, former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. expressed concern that much of the city's medical marijuana cultivation would take place in a small slice of his Northeast ward.

The D.C. Department of Health recently green-lighted seven applicants who plan to grow the drug, including a pair from the company affiliated with TV personality Montel Williams. And, sure enough, six of the applicants propose a site in a section of Ward 5 that abuts Bladensburg Road and is best known for manufacturing and strip clubs.

Their applications will be scored by Advisory Neighborhood Commissions in the coming weeks, one of the last steps before potential cultivation centers get one of 10 licenses to grow the drug in the District.

Unlike earlier community meetings on the controversial subject, Ward 5 will weigh in on the program without a council member dedicated to representing their interests at city hall -offering an Exhibit A in the leadership gap left by Thomas, a Democrat who faces more than three years in federal prison after his May 3 sentencing.

That can be a problem, because of his close relationship to the ANCs, Albrette Gigi Ransom, of ANC5C, said of Thomas' departure.

Ms. Ransom said the concentration of marijuana facilities in the ward is a problem for some community leaders, but her most pressing concern is the 30-day time frame the ANCs have to weigh in on the applications.

She noted that the four at-large council members should be able to provide assistance during the process.

A list circulated to the three ANCs in Ward 5 indicates that five different entities are considered provisional applicants to grow marijuana. …

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