By Athena Jones, CNN
Smoking marijuana for medicinal purposes is legal in 20 states and Washington, D.C., though selling and possessing it is still a federal crime.
However, a new rule could require dispensaries to discount the drug for those who can't afford, but need it.
Discounts for weed? Washington dc could soon become the first jurisdiction in the country to require medical marijuana dispensaries to subsidize pot for low-income patients.
"Doctors realize that this is medication that can work for patients and those patients need to be able to obtain it whether they're rich or poor," said Dan Riffle, director of federal politics for the Marijuana Policy Project.
Under the proposed rule, dispensaries would have to set aside two percent of their annual gross revenue to provide discounts of at least 20 percent to patients who earn less than double the federal poverty level.
Dispensaries that don't comply would face a fine of $2,000 per offense and risk losing their license to operate for multiple offenses.
The marijuana policy project, which advocates for legalizing and regulating weed, says these discounts are a good idea.
"I think the original plan was to have the dispensaries contribute to a fund that the city would maintain and this just puts the onus on the dispensaries themselves. But the bottom line is for the patient at the end of the day if you're someone who's on a lower or fixed income you need to be able to obtain medication," said Riffle.
Pot can cost a pretty penny. At the recently opened capital city care dispensary, an ounce of weed costs $380 to $440.
CNN first visited the dispensary a few weeks ago. They already offer discounts of 10 to 15 percent to seniors, veterans and low-income patients and say they're happy to do their part to "ensure that all patients have access to the medicine they need."
Metropolitan Wellness Center in southeast Washington also offers some discounts, but says the proposed rule isn't the best approach.
"I support the idea of a reduced cost access to cannabis, but I think the approach of a 20 percent discount or this two percent fund that would be contributed to by the business isn't the best or most creative process," said Mike Cuthriell, president of the Metropolitan Wellness Center.
The Marijuana Policy Project says it's not uncommon for dispensaries in states like Colorado and California to provide discounts for the poor, but requiring the discounts, and mandating that dispensaries set aside part of their revenues to fund it, is totally new.