Viewing Virginia's Future... in D.C.

Takoma Wellness: A Look At How It Could Should Be


Just a few Saturdays ago, we at NoVA NORML had the good fortune of touring the facilities of Takoma Wellness Center, a medical cannabis dispensary in the Takoma neighborhood of D.C.

It was my first time ever in an establishment founded and operated for the purpose of (legally) distributing cannabis, and it was a real eye-opener.

I walked in to find the owner of Takoma Wellness, Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn, engrossed in conversation with about ten enraptured NORML visitors. Topics were many and varied, all about how the dispensary manages its business, supplies its inventory and ensures its patients are properly documented. Then we were allowed into the medicine room, where we inspected the range of ingestion devices (vaporizers, crafties, butter makers, etc.), helpful THC/CBD charts, and empty jars affixed with the names of strains.

We couldn't see any actual cannabis (regulations dictate that it be locked away outside of business hours), but the strong, pungent, familiar, sweet scent which filled the room gave it away.

What do we, as NORML Virginians, take from this visit to a real live med-pot shop, located a Metro ride from our Commonwealth? A few things:

  • 1. It's so very...normal. The inside of the waiting room at Takoma Wellness looks like that of any doctor's office. The inside of the medicine room - where patients select their purchases - looks like a jewelry store, with large clean glass cases to clearly yet securely display the strains on that day's menu.
  • 2. The neighborhood hasn't gone to pot. Takoma, near the Maryland border, is a mixed-race middle-class section of D.C., with schools and parks and well-kept homes. The dispensary is next door to a Chinese restaurant. After the tour, I took a little walk around a few of the blocks, basking in the magnificent normality of the scene -- knowing there was one of them gol durned dope shops a stone's throw away.
  • 3. Regulation isn't easy, but it can work. There are lots of rules to follow - and in the interest of keeping our movement's momentum going into a promising future, we followed the rules.
  • 4. D.C. still has a lot of kinks to work out. We learned of the woeful lack of medicine Takoma Wellness had to sell, simply because the few licensed growers permitted by D.C. have not gotten their harvests up to full speed.
  • 5. A cannabis dispensary is very easy to imagine integrated pleasantly into a neighborhood in Arlington, or Richmond, or Hampton, or Roanoke. Getting to go in one there is an extreme motivator for winning access for Virginia patients.

In case you'd like to wander by and see this real live cannabusiness for yourself, please don't. The store is not open to the public, and sees registered D.C. patients by appointment.

Rabbi Kahn did state his interest in eventually expanding his store to include discretionary (recreational) cannabis sales, if and when the D.C. government (and its much bigger brother) permits such activity.

We must thank Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn and his staff for opening up his business on a day it is normally closed, and for spending his time and knowledge with us for the sole sake of our education.  Worth it.