Medical marijuana growers in Washington D.C. are in the unlikely position of working in one of the most lucrative new industries in the United States, and yet most are taking a significant financial hit. This scenario was emphasized by David Guard, who is the general manager of D.C.-based dispensary Capital City Care. In a statement made to the Washington Times, Guard said that all medical marijuana providers in the city are basically “operating at a loss”. A similar concern was voiced by Bob Simmons who said that dispensaries such as his own Alternative Solutions were essentially “bleeding cash”.
Part of the reason may be the hesitation of medical marijuana patients to purchase their medicine from local dispensaries. In the three months that the medical marijuana program in the city has been in running, there have been less than 60 patients that have signed up as legal buyers. Washington D.C. marijuana patients are also subject to strict restrictions with regard to the diseases that can legally be treated with marijuana. For instance, conditions as hepatitis C, post-traumatic stress disorder, nausea, anorexia, and migraine do not qualify patients for medical marijuana in Washington D.C.
Another factor that may contribute to the financial losses incurred by D.C. dispensaries is the low number of doctors that have signed up for the medical marijuana program. In a city with more than 1,400 accredited doctors, only 39 have signed up for the program.
There are also certain individuals and organizations in Washington D.C. that remain cautious about implementing a full-blown medical marijuana program. One such person is Councilmember Yvette M. Alexander, who has some reservations about the city’s medical marijuana program, although she claims she supports its growth. The head of the Washington D.C. Council health committee, Alexander suggests that expansion is unwarranted in light of the under-utilization of the city’s current medical marijuana facilities.
Others seem to be more pragmatic about the situation faced by Washington D.C. growers and dispensary owners. Scott Morgan who is the spokesperson of Capital City Care said that it will take time before a “sustainable model for medical marijuana” can be established in Washington D.C. However, Morgan does admit that the low number of patients that joined in on the medical marijuana program was unexpected, despite the general realization that it would take a while before the program started to turn a profit for those involved.
There is some hope on the horizon. As Morgan himself told the Huffington Post, stakeholders in the medical marijuana program are now coming together to develop solutions to the problems that are hindering the program’s growth in D.C. Coming from someone who runs a firm that provides medicine to more than half of all Washington D.C. medical marijuana patients, this optimistic point of view may actually have some merit.
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