A former rabbi is coming out of retirement to start a new business venture -- one that's catching a lot of people by surprise. Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn is getting ready to open one of D.C.'s first legal medical marijuana dispensaries, the Takoma Wellness Center, next week.
"We're very excited. It's been a long time in the making," Kahn said. "...For me, it's a chance to really do something else that's important to me, and I guess for my wife and I both, it was a mid-life change of careers."
Kahn retired from his duties as a rabbi in 2007, but is still active at local synagogues. He says he's honoring his father-in-law by opening the medical marijuana dispensary with his wife, Stephanie. Stephanie Kahn says medical marijuana helped her father when he was suffering from multiple sclerosis in the '70s.
"When he finally tried it, it made a huge difference," she said.
In addition to three kinds of marijuana, the Takoma Wellness Center will sell vaporizers, a machine that makes marijuana butter for brownies and cookies, and books about pot politics.
Only people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis can get doctors' recommendations in the District. They will have to display a Department of Health-issued medical marijuana card to even be able to enter the facility.
"The people who are coming to this dispensary are people who are really sick," Kahn said.
But not all religious leaders approve of the rabbi's new venture. Some believe marijuana is immoral. Kahn disputes that charge.
"Morality is not part of the issue," Kahn said. "And what we're dealing with here is getting sick people medicine. We're talking about easing suffering."