To ensure that real applications are being submitted by real people, the District has rejected nearly three dozen applications from people interested in growing or dispensing medical marijuana.
At the same time, the city stands to gain a lot of money from the rejections, according to Nikolas Schiller, spokesperson for the D.C. Patient's Cooperative - which touts itself as a nonprofit medical marijuana compassion organization.
"The District can make a lot of money by rejecting the applicants' letter of intent," Schiller told the Washington Informer. "Initially, the application fee was going to be $5,000 and applicants who were rejected would get $4,800 back."
But Schiller said that in a more recent draft on the issue, "they changed it to say you only get 50 percent of the application fee back. So the District gets to keep $2,500 of all those people who are going to be rejected."
Congress approved the District's medical marijuana initiative a year ago. It will allow licenses for five dispensaries and 10 cultivation sites, and the city now joins 16 states with such programs.
Since announcing the application process this past spring, DOH has reportedly mulled an eclectic mix of applicants' letters of intent. In addition to entities from the District and Maryland, applicants have expressed interest from other states as well.
DOH reportedly sent out 31 non-acceptance letters a week ago for minor mistakes such as failing to sign and date the applications.
Schiller said that although "the real issue lies in transparency and public information," regulations have been "crystal clear" on what the city wants.
"They have to have a day time phone number, email address and have to sign and date their letter intent," said Schiller. "So those rejections were all based on people not following what was required in the letter of intent."