New enforcement records reveal D.C. unlicensed cannabis shop locations


D.C.’s Alcohol Beverage and Cannabis Administration (ABCA) is cracking down on unlicensed cannabis shops. Since gaining new enforcement powers in April, they’ve issued warnings to 38 shops, but that’s just a fraction of the estimated hundreds operating illegally.

Newly released records reveal the location of every business that has been warned by ABCA. Most shops that were warned are on U Street NW or in Georgetown. At least 20 unlicensed stores that sell cannabis appear on the map when searching cannabis, marijuana, weed or dispensary on Google maps.

ABCA is working with the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection (DLCP) to shut down illegal shops. While ABCA hasn’t collected fines yet, DLCP has fined shops for lacking basic business licenses or occupancy permits. ABCA’s new powers allow them to escalate enforcement, issuing cease-and-desist letters, referrals to law enforcement, closures and product seizures.

Alleged violations by the businesses include illegally selling cannabis and displaying advertisements in public spaces. 

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However, the effectiveness of the crackdown remains unclear. One shop warned in March or and another raided in February appear to be still operating. ABCA has said it will return to warned businesses but has not said when. These struggles echo New York’s difficulty in shutting down its own gray market.

See the warnings released via FOIA to the Outlaw Report below.

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