By Steve Hendrix,
Twice a week at the office of Patrick Fasusi, District residents line up to ask the pain specialist to approve their use of medical marijuana. For most, the brief wait in the lobby is longer than their consultation.
As marijuana, which became legal for recreational use in the nation’s capital in February, continues to morph from contraband to commonplace, Fasusi’s clinic is a window into the ease with which some residents have been buying officially sanctioned pot for more than two years.
More than 2,700 people have registered for the city’s medical marijuana program, a number that has more than tripled since summer, when the D.C. Council relaxed the rules for participation. And many observers predict that the interest spurred by legalization will lead even more people to jump through the minor hoops required to obtain an official medical marijuana card from the city’s Department of Health.
[Getting medical marijuana in D.C. will become much easier]
The first step is a stop at a sympathetic doctor’s office. More than 240 D.C. physicians have applied to participate in the Department of Health’s online system that lets them recommend patients for medical cannabis.
But fewer doctors are busier, or more open about their work with medical marijuana patients, than Fasusi, a pain specialist and neurologist in Northwest Washington. At a clinic, two patients agreed in March to let a reporter sit in on their consultation as long as they were not identified.
The first, an unemployed man in his mid-30s, complained of pain following knee surgery — in 1995 — and a loss of appetite. Fasusi took his temperature and blood pressure and asked him a series of questions. The patient had no other major medical problems, was on no medication, did not drink and smoked only marijuana.
About 18 minutes later, after examining the knee, the doctor filled out the health department’s electronic application for the card and told the man to return for a follow-up in four months.
The second patient, a 20-year-old student from the District’s Takoma neighborhood, said she had been battling insomnia for the last year and a half. The sleeplessness was creating anxiety, she said. She had tried over-the-counter melatonin but had not seen a doctor.
“Do you smoke?”
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