Podcast: Mendelson’s About-Face On A Gray Market Crackdown


For the inaugural episode of our podcast’s third season, host Scott Cecil is joined by The Outlaw Report’s editor-in-chief to unpack how a last-minute legislative proposal to crack down on D.C.’s unpermitted cannabis shops quickly crashed and burned.

It started last month when D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson quietly announced an emergency bill that would have allowed local authorities to impose harsh civil penalties and fines on D.C.’s many gray market cannabis storefronts and delivery services. The plan, Mendelson said, was to ramp up enforcement on the gray market to protect D.C.’s faltering medical cannabis industry from unfair competition by unlicensed weed vendors.

The bill provoked a swift reaction from local advocates and business owners, who said that a crackdown on “gifting” shops would disproportionately harm D.C.’s Black community. And only a few days after the bill was announced, Mendelson pulled the enforcement provisions, acknowledging “some controversy” around the legislation.

His about-face marked a significant victory for unpermitted weed businesses, which have been on high alert ahead of a Nov. 19 council hearing that could determine the fate of D.C.’s gray market.

However, Mendelson didn’t fully back down in the end, insisting that some form of enforcement against “illicit” cannabis businesses was necessary, and could soon be back on the table. So is there another showdown on the horizon? Listen in to find out.

Check out previous episodes of The Outlaw Report Podcast on Spotify or Apple Music.


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