First medical marijuana dispensary east of the Anacostia River opens

Max Gualtieri

The first-ever medical marijuana dispensary in DC east of the Anacostia River, Anacostia Organics, just opened its doors.

Anacostia Organics is located at 2022 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE, just a couple blocks away from Anacostia Park. A medical marijuana dispensary is a store where people who need marijuana for medical reasons can obtain it legally. Medical marijuana was legalized in DC in 1998, but due to congressional resistance, the first legal marijuana sale was not made until 2013.

Anacostia Organics had its grand opening on January 24, 2019, and was opened to patients on February 4. Special guests like Mayor Muriel Bowser and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, showing their support for the blossoming marijuana industry and the new store’s female owner: Linda Mercado Greene.

Greene owns the store and is also the CEO of two other businesses—a public relations and affairs company called “The Linda Greene Group” and BCG Holdings, Incorporated, a cannabis public relations and affairs agency.

Greene was able to open the dispensary because of 2017 legislation that gave preference to minority-owned businesses wanting to enter the marijuana industry.

Council member Robert C. White Jr. explained the rationale of the law to the Washington Post: “We have locked up so many black people for marijuana, and I see it as in­cred­ibly hypocritical for those folks to return from prison on marijuana charges just to come back to a place that has now legalized and industrialized it, and they can’t play any role.”

The law made it easier for Greene, who is a person of color herself, to get the license she needed to open her business in an industry dominated by whites. In 2017, 81 percent of dispensaries were owned by white people, according to Marijuana Business Daily.

The opening of this dispensary is also notable because of its unique location in DC. Roughly 6,000 of the District’s 700,000 residents have medical marijuana cards. Nearly 20 percent of cardholders live in Wards 7 and 8, but there were no dispensaries in that part of city until Anacostia Organics opened. DC’s five other dispensaries are mainly clustered around downtown and the Capitol, requiring Ward 7 and 8 residents with medical marijuana cards to travel all the way to Eastern Market to get their medicine.  Greene used this information about the location of marijuana cardholders to persuade the DC City Council to pass emergency legislation to reopen the licensing process and eventually to grant her license.

The process of getting a medical marijuana card starts with a recommendation from a physician approved by the Department of Health, two proofs of residency, a $100 fee, and a 30-day waiting period. All patients must be 21 years or older to obtain a DC medical marijuana card. After this process is completed, it is legal for a cardholder to purchase marijuana at a dispensary.