Opening Shots Fired in Takoma Over City’s New Pot Law

By Lydia DePillis - Housing Complex
|  Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010  |  Updated 5:16 PM EDT
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Opening Shots Fired in Takoma Over City’s New Pot Law

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Coming soon to Takoma?

Last night, ANC 4B won its battle with vice in the form of usury. The next item on their agenda, however, could make Famous Pawn’s trial look like a cake walk: Pot.

In May, the D.C. city council approved legislation to sanction as many as eight medical marijuana dispensaries in the District, which would allow only patients with cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, HIV, or another “chronic and lasting disease” to obtain up to two ounces of cannabis. It’s still Congress’s to reject, and rules haven’t even been written to regulate the new establishments. But Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn and his wife, Stephanie, a nurse, are laying the groundwork to claim a spot in Takoma, at 6925 Fourth Street NW.

They’re treading very carefully.

“We want to say that we’re ready to meet with any of you at any time,” the smiling Rabbi told the audience.

The couple ran into skepticism immediately. Perhaps thinking of the neighborhood’s reputation, an audience member wanted to know: why Takoma? The Kahns had a ready answer: They live nearby, and the area has become a hub for alternative wellness services like acupuncture, massage, even reiki. A marijuana dispensary would fit right in, they said.

Others objected that pot dealing already happens throughout the area, and this would just exacerbate the problem, especially if patients became targets for theft. The Kahns reassured the audience that they would have an off-duty police officer on the site to deter crime.

For many, it just came down to a “certain element” that they’d rather not see in Takoma.

“There are just some thing that we ought not to be promoting,” said Ken Anderson, a local Baptist minister, who earlier had complained about colorful condoms displayed within reach of children at the Takoma Library. “Put it in the Wilson Building!” someone else finished.

The Kahns, however, are not without allies — many of whom have personal experience with terminal illness (Stephanie Kahn watched her father die of multiple sclerosis and her mother of cancer, with traditional remedies providing little relief). ANC Commissioner Faith Wheeler said she was in support of the Kahns’ proposal and only wished it also covered epilepsy, which her mother had suffered.

“This can be the difference between comfort and pain,” Wheeler said, her emotion showing. “It can also make the difference, in some cases, between life and death.”

The ANC will be holding a meeting with the Kahns on July 12 to talk over the idea, and decided to push off any vote until a regulations were in place and an application submitted—which could take a long time, with the amount of community process that will be going on city wide over the five allowed dispensaries.

Opening Shots Fired in Takoma Over City’s New Pot Law was originally published by Washington City Paper on Jun 29, 2010

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