One of the District’s most well-connected residents recently expanded her entrepreneurial brand into the new field of medical marijuana.
Linda Mercado Greene, former chief of staff the late Marion Barry during his time on the D.C. Council, held a grand opening of Anacostia Organics, the first medical marijuana dispensary east of the Anacostia River in Ward 8 on Jan. 24.
Greene, who has decades of deep connections with leading political and social figures in the District and nationally, told The Informer she wanted to offer this unique product to residents of the District’s East End.
“Through our research of license holders and locations, we found that even though an overwhelming majority of medical marijuana cardholders reside in Wards 7 and 8 [before the opening of Anacostia Organics], there were no dispensaries located in their own communities to give them access to their medications,” Greene said. “It was discovered that there were no longtime female residents of the District of Columbia awarded licenses for a cultivator license or a dispensary license — only two people of color and only two women were awarded licenses out of the 15 licenses granted to operate in the District of Columbia.”
Greene said she presented this data to the Executive Office of the Mayor and by overcoming hurdles ranging from questions about the industry itself to whether she meets the qualifications for the firm she managed to work with the executive branch and the D.C. Council to pass emergency legislation last year to reopen the dispensary process for her business.
Greene’s business comes as the Anacostia neighborhood has attracted other businesses such as Busboys & Poets, and there have been strong conversations about a Starbucks locating there. Greene lives in Anacostia and has received praise for her work as a public relations/public affairs company entrepreneur through her firm, The Linda Greene Group.
When asked why she didn’t “sell candy,” Greene had a quick response.
“Candy doesn’t heal,” she said. “Marijuana heals as a natural plant. It can relieve the severely painful symptoms of an illness.”
Greene’s shop rests on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE and the majority of her employees are from east of the Anacostia River. Her medical marijuana company, BCG Holdings Inc., has Sherri Blount and Yolanda Caraway as co-founders and H. Marriel Foushee as a board member.
Anacostia Organics serves as a subsidiary of BCG Holdings Inc.
The shop has a white interior with shelves of plant products and medicine bottles. Throughout the interior showcases the artwork of Ward 8 artist Tendani Mpulubusi.
“I decided not to put any type of representation of weed in the artwork that I did for Anacostia Organics,” Mpulusi said. “I do branding for the cannabis industry and I know what Greene wanted.”
The opening had Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) among the speakers.
Bowser praised Greene for her grit and tenacity.
“This is a tough business and it is a big business,” the mayor said. “We may laugh and giggle about cannabis but it is a serious business.”
Bowser also credited Greene for opening a business in the Anacostia neighborhood, an area her economic development team has made a priority. Norton also complimented Greene, saying “medical marijuana has come to the other half of D.C.”
The delegate reminded the gathering of 50 people that the District became the first state-level jurisdiction to legalize medical marijuana and she managed to fight off congressional efforts to ban it in the city.
White labeled Anacostia Organics “amazing” and reminded the gathering that “Africans are agricultural people.”
“We need to get back to what works,” the council member said.
The first full day of operation for Anacostia Organics will be Jan. 31 and Greene expects about 100 customers to come to her store daily.