Newsletter: D.C. Cracks Down on Unlicensed Cannabis Shops with New Enforcement Powers


D.C. agency gets more power to go after unlicensed cannabis shops

Fred Moosally, the director of ABCA, asked D.C. council members for more power to enforce against unlicensed operators in early March, and new laws signed on April 8, 2024 are his answer. The new emergency rulemaking adopted by his agency a few days after council passed its legislation further addresses the agency’s efforts to kick I-71 shops out of the city.

The council’s act allows ABCA to investigate and summarily close unlicensed retailers found violating the Medical Cannabis Act. ABCA can now seize any cannabis products on site during closure. However, the regulations also ensure due process. Both the unlicensed retailer owner and the property owner will be notified and have the right to request a hearing before the ABCA Board within five business days. The Board must then schedule a hearing within another five business days if a timely request is received. Read more here

Legal Aid assists Marylanders in cannabis expungements

Maryland legalized adult-use recreational cannabis in July 2023. In addition to creating a legal cannabis market, legislators also passed laws to help people expunge past cannabis charges. Maryland Legal Aid is holding expungement clinics to help. You can find more information about upcoming clinics on their website.

Newly released documents reveal large-scale cannabis bust in Virginia

Law enforcement conducted a large-scale raid on cannabis-related stores across nine counties in Southwest Virginia last September. The recently unsealed warrants reveal undercover operations where officers made test purchases of suspected marijuana, according to Cardinal News. While some counties haven’t pressed charges yet, Scott County has filed charges related to distribution and possession. The investigation is ongoing and targets a loophole where stores “gift” marijuana with other purchases – modeled off of D.C’s I-71 market. However Virginia does not have an I-71 amendment. These shops, including Zarati stores in multiple locations, have mostly closed down since the raids.

East Coast Round Up

Massachusetts’ cannabis social equity fund awards $2.3 million to cannabis businesses after a long delay.

A New York cannabis company, Valencia AG, sued the state’s cannabis regulator (OCM) claiming discrimination against white males in the licensing process. The OCM filed a motion to dismiss the case arguing that even without minority and female applicants, Valencia likely wouldn’t get a license.

Despite New York vowing to shut down illegal shops and keep them out of the legal market, one such shop, Budega, was recently awarded a license, according to the New York Times. This raises concerns about the state’s vetting process, especially as they rush to approve licenses due to pressure.

New York authorities now have the power to “padlock” businesses illegally selling cannabis.

A cannabis grow facility in Massachusetts just became the first of its kind in the US to ditch its union. Workers at Cresco Labs in Fall River voted to de-unionize earlier this month, according to industry publication MJBizDaily.

Around the country

Despite a predicted economic slowdown in the U.S. this year, cannabis sales are expected to reach a massive $112.4 billion, contributing significantly to the national economy. This is a 12% increase from last year.

Culture & More

A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry found no link between states legalizing marijuana for adults and an increase in youth cannabis use. Researchers analyzed data from hundreds of thousands of high school students and found no change in youth consumption rates after legalization.

From the Swamp

Democrats pressure the DEA to make good on rescheduling which could impact cannabis companies ability to declare bankruptcy.


A church in Arizona won the right to use ayahuasca in religious ceremonies, in a landmark decision for religious freedom.


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