Medical Marijuana Makeover

Pat Hawkins and the staff at Capital City Care take on misconceptions of medical marijuana in the District

By John Riley
Photography by Todd Franson
Published on April 18, 2013, 9:36am | Comments

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''This is not a grungy, nasty-looking place,'' Hawkins continues, gesturing around the offices of Capital City Care, similar to a doctor's office with freshly painted white walls, comfortable couches and designated stations where staffers will carefully measure patients' prescriptions. ''I think people have these images in their head, even the neighbors, because we were testifying at the [Advisory Neighborhood Commission], and people say, 'Oh, it's going to bring more crime,' and, 'People are going to be smoking on the steps.' The last place anyone is going to be smoking is going to be near these cameras, because there are a million cameras around, and the police are monitoring the feed.''

Hawkins grants, however, that she understands that some constituents may be wary of medical-marijuana facilities, but likens the experience to the outrage over needle-exchange programs aimed at combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases among IV drug users, a concept that was gradually accepted and has since been heralded for helping to reduce HIV infection rates in the city.

''This city has always been very sensitive to drugs, because we have such an enormous drug problem, and always have. But once they see it, I think all the opposition is going to melt away, like it did with needle exchange.''

Hawkins also notes that if the District is able to provide a clean, efficient, and effective model of administering medical marijuana to patients with severe illnesses or medical conditions, other states, like Maryland, will likely follow suit.

''I think next year we'll see bills in Maryland to do the same thing,'' she says. ''There's been a lot of talk in Maryland already, and I think they'll move on it, but first they want to see that we get it right.''

For more information, visit Capital City Care, 1334 N. Capitol St. NW, online at capitalcitycare.com.