At long last, medical marijuana has arrived in the nation’s capital. 15 years after Washington, DC voters approved marijuana as medicine, a pioneering pot patient walked into the Capital City Care dispensary and walked out with $250 worth of cannabis.

Nearly 70 percent of DC voters approved the 1998 medical marijuana initiative, but it languished in legal purgatory for over a decade when Congress intervened in implementing a medical pot program. Congress finally stood down in 2009, allowing the District of Columbia government to set up a system regulating medical pot, limiting it to DC residents with specific chronic illnesses including HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and cancer.

City officials and lawmakers painstakingly designed the program to avoid future federal intervention, taking several years to issue licenses to marijuana growers and retailers, and to certify prescribing doctors.

As of Monday, the DC Health Department had issued medical cards to nine patients, and about 20 doctors have applied to be approved to prescribe pot.

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