Takoma Wellness Center medical dispensary counter displaying cannabis flower.

An Insider’s View on Washington D.C.’s Best Medical Cannabis Dispensary

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN, and Eloise Theisen, NP
Written by Denise Gonzalez-Walker

We recently caught up with Stephanie Kahn, BSN, for her perspective as a cannabis nurse and Takoma Wellness Center medical dispensary co-founder. Stephanie shared her insights from leading Washington, D.C.’s longest running legal medical dispensary and what she wished every new cannabis patient knew before visiting a dispensary.

(Note: This blog post was edited on 9/9/21 to more accurately reflect Washington, D.C., cannabis regulations.)

Takoma Wellness Center’s logo is a blue hamsa with a red heart in the palm.
Stephanie Kahn in front of a wall displaying a large hamsa collection at Takoma Wellness Center.

Step into Leaf411 member Takoma Wellness Center medical cannabis dispensary in Washington, D.C., and the first thing you’ll notice is the hamsa, a hand-shaped design that is believed to offer protection and good fortune, that traces back to ancient Mesopotamia.

The hamsa symbol is fitting, given that it shares a long history that runs parallel with cannabis. The cannabis plant can also be tracked back thousands of years ago when it was used medicinally, including in Mesopotamia. The hamsa symbol also holds an important place in the Jewish culture shared by founders Stephanie Kahn, BSN, Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn and their son Joshua Kahn.

Front door of Takoma Wellness Center medical marijuana dispensary in Washington, D.C.

With a background in healthcare and the spiritual community, the Kahns already had extensive experience helping patients before entering the cannabis industry. One cannot help but think of Takoma Wellness Center’s extensive hamsa collection as a symbol of their caring and hope for the patients who visit the store.

shopping tips

Navigating Washington, D.C.’s unique cannabis landscape

Takoma Wellness Center holds a unique spot as the oldest and longest running legal medical dispensary in Washington, D.C. While cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, the plant is legally sold for medical use in the nation’s capital, and possession of small amounts for personal use has been decriminalized.

District residents also support adult use (recreational) cannabis; however, Washington, D.C., is unique in that it’s not a state but a district that is ultimately governed by the US Congress. So far, Congress has blocked the district’s efforts to create a legal adult use cannabis marketplace.

U.S. Capitol dome with U.S. flag flying in front in D.C., where medical cannabis is legal.

District of Columbia dispensary Takoma Wellness Center accepts out-of-state MMJ cards

Cannabis cannot cross state lines, but marijuana medical cards can in a few states as well as in Washington, D.C. Medical dispensaries in the district accept valid medical cards from any state with a legal medical cannabis program, when that person is visiting the district and buying medicine in-person. (Dispensaries are not allowed to deliver or ship product across state lines due to ongoing federal prohibition that regulates all interstate commerce.)

For Takoma Wellness Center which is located only a few blocks from the Maryland state line and approximately 10 miles from Virginia, this means that over 50% of their customers come from outside the district, mostly from neighboring states. As nearby state marketplaces evolve, however, the mix of patients continues to change.

“We used to get a lot of patients from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but as their own state programs have improved, there’s less need for their residents to travel to find cannabis medicine that works for their needs,” Stephanie says.

Of course, the capital is also a popular place for people from around the country to visit. For patients who are unable to bring their cannabis medicine with them when traveling, finding a trustworthy local source like Takoma Wellness Center can be a godsend.

Patient consultant stands next to Takoma Wellness Center’s cannabis flower display, ready to help patients with questions.

Building a medical dispensary around the needs of cannabis patients

Takoma Wellness Center was built around not only providing a wide range of products but also exceptional service to patients, with patient consultants (similar to budtenders) who spend time educating visitors on different options. That commitment has remained even during pandemic challenges.

“Prior to the pandemic, we would spend a lot of time with our patients. That all changed last year with restrictions and the need for social distancing,” Stephanie says.

“A lot of the changes were positive. We were allowed to implement online ordering, curbside service and delivery. The downside, though, was that we were not able to spend the same amount of time in store consulting with patients.”

In response, Takoma Wellness Center developed virtual consults and protocols for patients to check in outside, reducing the time most people needed to spend inside the store. Stephanie says that their relationship with Leaf411 has also helped, with Leaf hotline nurses who are able to guide patients on the phone while looking over Takoma Wellness Center’s extensive online menu.

Graphic with a quote from Katherine Golden, RN, Leaf411 CEO saying, “Based on the calls we receive from Takoma Wellness Center customers, we can tell that their staff really care about helping patients only purchase what they need, saving them money and reducing buyers remorse by providing resources like Leaf411.”

What are the top reasons patients turn to medical cannabis?

Takoma Wellness Center serves patients who are seeking alternatives for a wide range of conditions.

“Pain and anxiety top the list, when it comes to the information that patients share with us. We have patients visiting us who have autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis (MS), Lyme disease, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, fibromyalgia, cancer pain and chemo side effects, who are seeking relief,” Stephanie says.

“We also have a couple of pain doctors in the area who are suggesting cannabis as an alternative to opioids for some of their patients. In my mind, this is a very positive development,” Stephanie says, though she also acknowledges that many other pain clinics continue testing patients for THC, with positive THC tests disqualifying them from continuing with prescription-based pain medications.

Tips & Tricks

Advice for both new and experienced cannabis patients

Stephanie has spent years helping patients understand the ever-changing cannabis landscape, with Takoma Wellness Center’s product selection informed both by Stephanie’s cannabis nursing background and years of experience hearing from patients on what has worked best. She’s also seen common missteps that new patients make on their first dispensary visit and has some general advice to share.

“A lot of cannabis naïve patients come in wanting to try edibles first. However, we really encourage them to first try tinctures instead. It’s much easier to adjust your dose with tinctures, which is especially important if you’re starting low and going slow,” Stephanie says.

She also sees both new and experienced cannabis users missing out on the full potential of plant medicine when they only focus on finding the highest-THC products.

“Whether the patient has been buying on the street for 30 years or they’re new to cannabis, we often see them looking for the highest THC product when a ratio product containing a balance of THC and CBD might actually provide better relief,” Stephanie says. “Obviously we’re not going to force education on them, but we do encourage patients to explore different product types and often have discounts to make it easier to try new things.”

When trying new products, Stephanie suggests that patients resist the urge to “stock up,” since cannabis products cannot be returned to the store.

“We’ve had customers who are brand new to cannabis who want to buy a half-ounce of cannabis flower or an extra-strength tincture because they believe it will be better than regular strength. While we’re not going to deny them that purchase, we do try to educate them and explain what the problems they might encounter,” Stephanie says.

Stephanie as well as Takoma Wellness Center staff also suggest that patients start low and go slow, understanding that everyone’s endocannabinoid system is different.

“The dose that works best for your friend may either be not enough or way too much for you. The best way to find your ideal dose is to start low and go slow, building up to the dose that works for you,” Stephanie says.

Looking for the best local, family-owned D.C. dispensary with deep ties to the area?

Today’s patients and consumers have more options than ever when it comes to shopping for cannabis medicine. Many are eager to support local businesses that are making a difference and building a sustainable, equitable cannabis industry.

Takoma Wellness Center’s ties to the community run deep. Both of Stephanie’s parents grew up in Washington, D.C. within blocks of the medical dispensary’s current location. It was her parents’ experience using cannabis on doctors’ recommendations that inspired the Kahns to open a medical dispensary. As Stephanie says, “The story of medical cannabis in our city is personal to us—it’s also our family story.” (Read more about their story here.)

Stephanie is humble when it comes to ways the dispensary reinvests in the community. When asked, she shares that Takoma Wellness Center hires from the community, offering full health benefits, paid time off and above minimum wage pay. The dispensary has also participated in National Expungement Week and supports various community groups and programs.

Takoma Wellness Center has earned Washington City Paper’s Best of D.C. Best Dispensary award for five consecutive years thanks to its commitment to patients and the community, as well as its vast product selection.

Also, as a Leaf411 business member, Takoma Wellness Center also helps ensure that cannabis education is freely available to all patients, regardless of where they live.

Katherine Golden, Leaf411 founder and CEO/ED says, “Based on the calls we receive from Takoma Wellness Center customers, we can tell that their staff really care about helping patients only purchase what they need, saving them money and reducing buyers remorse by providing resources like Leaf411.”


Bird's Eye View of marijuana flower on table, in grinder, in jar and female hand holding an open joint

Ask a DC Budtender: How Much Cannabis is Too Much Cannabis?

We want to make sure you have the best cannabis experience every time you consume, so we wrote this helpful blog. 

As experienced Patient Consultants, we’re familiar with many of our customers’ concerns about accidental overindulgence. Before legalization, there were many horror stories about cannabis enthusiasts eating one brownie too many and vanishing into a black hole of paranoid couch lock.

Nowadays, thanks to clearer, more consistent measuring of THC levels on packaged products, it’s easy to make sure you get the appropriate dose for your experience level and body type (just ask us for tips!). But as the market grows and technology improves, cannabis products are becoming more potent, and consumers who haven’t indulged since pre-legalization may find the flower they encounter is stronger than expected! 

So we wanted to write you a helpful guide covering how much cannabis you can safely consume as a beginner and what to do if you’ve accidentally overindulged.

How much is too much when it comes to cannabis?

The slightly unhelpful honest answer is, it depends! For the best experience, it’s always a good idea to have an IRL conversation with your friendly neighborhood Patient Consultant about your familiarity with cannabis, past experiences, and general metabolic level.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t helpful guidelines to follow. The LA Times made a beneficial calculator for this purpose. A general rule is to stick with minimal dosage the first time you try a new cannabis product. If you’re a newbie smoking an unfamiliar strain, take a single puff and wait about half an hour to feel the peak of the effects. If you’re trying out an edible, give yourself slightly more time–around an hour or two–to see how the dose hits you.

hand holding lit marijuana joint with blurry outside background

How to avoid taking too much cannabis?

When it comes to figuring out your ideal cannabis dosage, we give all our favorite clients the same advice: start low and go slow.

If you’re trying out a new cannabis product, whether it’s a new vape gel, edible, tincture, or strain, always carefully read the dosage information. Some manufacturers will suggest dosages, while others merely tell you how much THC a product contains and leave you to decide for yourself. Either way–consulting that packaging is always a good move!

If the suggested dosage isn’t doing it for you, you can increase the amount of THC you’re taking in about 5 mg at a time, leveling up with a slightly higher dose the next time you use the product. So, for example, if you’re eating a 20 mg candy bar, and ate a quarter without feeling much, start next time by just eating half. You can go for the full dose next time if the experience isn’t as intense as you’d like!

Can you overdose on marijuana?

Let’s get this out of the way: No! 

If you scrolled down here in a panic to make sure you’re not about to die, the good news is that there have been zero recorded deaths or any other adverse health outcomes longer than the length of a stormy afternoon. 

Still, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to overdose. It’s just that, unlike other, more dangerous compounds, the effects of a cannabis overdose can be unpleasant rather than harmful. Overdosing on cannabis happens most often to people who don’t use THC products often and accidentally exceed their limits. It’s also more common when people mix cannabis with alcohol or other substances that can increase the effects. 

upset women with hands in pray position up against mouth and female friends hand on shoulder

Signs you might have overindulged.

It’s all very well for us to tell you overdosing on marijuana isn’t dangerous–when you’re in the middle of a bad experience, it can still feel overwhelming. Here are some telltale signs you might have ingested too much THC:

  • You feel generalized, free-floating anxiety or paranoia
  • You’re confused, unable to distinguish what’s really happening from your imagination
  • Your heart is racing, and you feel panicked
  • You feel nauseated, or maybe even vomit
  • You feel dehydrated like you’re sweating more than usual.

What should I do if I’ve taken too much?

Suppose you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, deep breaths! Fortunately for you, your friendly neighborhood Patient Consultants  know a few good tips to stop feeling so high:

  • Stay calm. It might feel like forever, but these effects will only last a few minutes. We promise you’ll feel better soon!
  • “Mom” yourself. What are the foods you find most comforting? How about a nice glass of water, or a piece of fruit? Feeding your body something nourishing and straightforward is a great way to get centered.
  • Lie down and rest. You’ll feel better if you let your body relax and your mind roam. Find a dark, quiet place where you can be still and dream for a while.
  • Get outside. If you’re feeling too anxious to stay still, indulging in a bit of nature time in a familiar place, like a garden or back yard, can help calm and focus your mind.

The most important thing you can do if you think you’ve consumed too much cannabis is stay cool, calm, and collected. Remember, this too shall pass! And next time, check-in with your patient consultant before you try something new. We’re here to help!


woman's hand holding a cannabis pipe with flower in it

The Washington DC Dispensary Guide to Cannabis Microdosing

New (and seasoned) cannabis consumers can benefit from an understanding of microdosing. Here’s everything you need to know. 

If you’re a seasoned cannabis consumer, you’re likely familiar with the potency race to the top. As cannabis becomes legal in a growing number of states, producers battle to attract consumers with products that pack a more potent punch. 

But stronger doesn’t always mean better! 

There are days when you want to experience the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, but you still need to get things done. That’s where cannabis microdosing, our Patient Consultant’s secret weapon for sustainable daily cannabis consumption, comes in. So what is cannabis microdosing? And how can you incorporate the benefits of micro-dosed cannabis into your daily routine? Let’s take a closer look!

Up close of Cannabis Tincture Dropper

What is cannabis microdosing?

First things first; what is cannabis microdosing? While the actual amounts of cannabis an individual uses for microdosing can vary from person to person, micro-dosing consists of using a minimal dose of cannabis, either by taking a small amount of a pure THC product or a larger amount of a high CBD, low THC product for a more mellow effect enjoyable over a long period. 

The techniques of micro-dosing cannabis were initially associated with hallucinogens like LSD or mushrooms and have recently been expanded to investigate the potential of low dosage THC.

The idea is to balance the desirable benefits of THC and the sometimes overwhelming psychoactive effects to create a sustainable daily high.

How is cannabis microdosing different from a full dose of cannabis?

When it comes to cannabis consumption, microdosing is all about calibration. Rather than maxing out THC levels for a complete mind/body experience, the small doses utilized by practitioners of cannabis microdosing are designed to deliver precise effects. 

Where consuming a full dose of THC creates a specific bodily experience that some find overwhelming, the effects of microdosing are far more subtle and vary from person to person depending on several factors, including the cannabis strain, dosage level, and your body’s tolerances. Basically–the effects of microdosing are more subtle and controlled, allowing you to experience the therapeutic benefits of THC while continuing to go about your day unimpeded by the psychoactive effects.

What are the benefits of cannabis microdosing?

So, why microdose? The short answer is, it all depends! 

Individuals might try microdosing for a variety of reasons–depending on their physical and psychological needs. Some people enjoy the relief microdosing can provide for bodily conditions like relief from chronic pain or topical treatments for inflammation. In contrast, others turn to the treatment for conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

While most academic studies on microdosing have been done on psychedelic substances, consumers often report symptomatic relief; in addition, if you’re new to the world of cannabis consumption, microdosing can be a great way to test your tolerances and find out the right level of THC for your individual needs.

woman sitting and flipping through a notebook

How to start cannabis microdosing?

First things first—let’s get you talking to a professional! 

As with any change in your wellness or supplement routine, you should always check with an expert who understands the ins and outs of consumption to see if cannabis microdosing is right for you. A qualified Patient Consultant will help you determine if cannabis microdosing is right for you and determine the best place to start.

Once you’ve got the professional go-ahead, check out some of our favorite low-dose products! If you’re brand new to the world of microdosing, a high dosage CBD product like Abatin Wellness CBD oil can be a great place to start. A low THC/high CBD tincture like Liberty’s MediHaze allows you to control your dosage drop by drop. Or try a little infused honey for a sweetly light dose. Whatever product you choose, Takoma Wellness’ experienced budtenders are here to help guide you through your cannabis microdosing journey.


woman holding a handful of cannabis gummies

Ask a DC Budtender: The Rules of Cannabis Edibles Consumption

New cannabis consumers often approach edibles with a mixture of excitement, fear, and caution. We get it – edibles have an interesting reputation. But they shouldn’t. Our cannabis edibles basics will ensure you have the best experience – every time. 

When it comes to cannabis edibles, there’s an element of mystery that can make taking the first bite of that infused chocolate bar (or oat bar, marshmallow crisp, or cookie in a jar) a nerve-wracking experience. How do you know the correct dosage? And what effects will you experience? 

Unlike more familiar forms of cannabis, like flower and vape cartridges, it’s hard to make a visual assessment of the perfect amount (and variety) of cannabis edibles to suit your needs. 

That’s why we decided to sit down with our favorite professional Patient Consultants to learn the ins and outs of cannabis edibles and how new consumers can ensure a perfect experience every time.

chocolate chip cookies next to cannabis leaves

What are cannabis edibles?

Let’s start with the basics: what are cannabis edibles, and how do they work? 

Put simply–a cannabis edible is any cannabis-infused food product that contains either THC or CBD. Some cannabis edibles enthusiasts prefer them for their convenience, while others like the relief of not worrying about the impact of smoking on their lungs. 

These days, edibles come in many forms beyond the familiar pot brownie, from beef jerky to breakfast cereal! With the world of cannabis edible brands growing by the day, it’s easy to find a product to suit your palette (and dosage and effects requirements).

How long does it take cannabis edibles to kick in?

Edibles tend to take longer to kick in than inhalable cannabis products. Typically, you can expect to wait between 30-60 minutes to experience the effects of cannabis edibles. Many factors can affect the timing of cannabis absorption via edibles. Let’s go over a few:

  • You might feel the effects of high dosage THC edibles more quickly than a lower dose product.
  • Edibles you consume by sucking on them (like lozenges, lollipops, and gum) kick in faster since they’re absorbed directly through your saliva (they’re sublingual). 
  • Chewable edibles (like gummies, cookies, or that oat bar we talked about earlier) take longer to kick in since they have to be digested before your body absorbs the THC or CBD they contain. 
  • Other factors, like how empty your stomach is and your sex, weight, and cannabis tolerance, can affect how quickly your body reacts to edibles.

If you’ve consumed an edible and don’t yet feel the effects, have patience! Our Budtenders recommend waiting 24 hours before taking a second dose to avoid consuming too much. Instead, try eating something else to kick-start your digestion.

smiling person about to eat a cannabis gummie

How do edibles make you feel?

One advantage of edibles is the intensity they offer compared to other cannabis products. Cannabis edibles create a more powerful high than some other consumption methods, and you’ll feel the effects longer than inhalable cannabis products. 

That’s why it’s so important to read your labels and consult your budtender before embarking on a novel cannabis experience. Make sure you pay attention to serving sizes–what sounds like a reasonable dose for that chocolate bar you’re chowing down on might just represent the THC content of a single square!

The bottom line: whether you’re brand new to the world of edibles, or a seasoned pro, starting low and going slow is always the best advice. Taking a mindful approach to cannabis edible consumption will ensure you have a blissful, relaxing experience that’s 100% DC Budtender approved.

Do you have cannabis consumption questions? Drop by Takoma Wellness and ask a DC Patient Consultant (Budtender)! We’re here for you.


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A rabbi. A reality-TV star. An Olympic athlete. Pot is a booming Washington industry, helmed by a diverse roster of professionals employed in the business of growing, selling, marketing, and managing the newly (semi-) legal product. Illustrations by Jenny Rosenberg.

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Green Marijuana Leaf on top of a black and white image of muffins

D.C. Dispensaries Welcome Looser Restrictions On Cannabis Classes

D.C. cannabis card holders looking to master the art of baking the perfect pot brownie or using a high-tech vaporizer could soon get to learn from licensed professionals at their local dispensary.

Last week, D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) proposed new rules that would allow medical cannabis dispensaries to host educational events and demonstrations. That includes classes on how to “utilize marijuana paraphernalia” and “cook foods with medical marijuana,” according to the proposal.

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Stephanie & Rabbi Jeffery Kahn next to cannabis display inside Takoma Wellness center

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Paula Querido Kahn is Elevating Patient Care

I was born in Miami, Florida, in the summer of 1979. At the time, there was a gas shortage and my dad had to make sure the OBGYN had enough fuel to drive to the hospital. When I was two months old, my family and I moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado and then back to Miami for first thru twelfth grades. During my eighth grade year, my mom and step-dad bought a house in the mountains of Flagstaff, Arizona. What does this have to do with cannabis, you may be asking?

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