WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — After weeks of warning about an approaching crackdown on marijuana gifting shops, District officials delayed inspecting the businesses without explanation.
The so-called Joint Cannabis Task Force was expected to begin inspecting the estimated 100 or so marijuana gifting shops on Sept. 1 for city code and health violations. Despite the unexplained delay, a spokeswoman for Mayor Muriel Bowser promised that inspections are coming.
“Government agencies will continue to coordinate and work together on the Cannabis Task Force. We will provide an update in the upcoming weeks,” said Susana Castillo, Bowser’s press secretary. “It will happen.”
Marijuana advocates who represent owners of the gifting shops were expecting raids that had been randomly conducted since Initiative 71 passed in 2014, legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. They and the gifting shop owners have declined to discuss the upcoming inspections.
Because it still is illegal to buy or sell marijuana in D.C., the gifting concept was created by store owners who would give the marijuana for free but charge cash for items such as clothing and services such as massages.
Owners of the seven legal marijuana dispensaries have been pressuring city officials to get rid of these gifting shops, arguing that they should be going through the rigorous and expensive process of getting a license to sell marijuana like they did.
When DC News Now asked Bowser about the crackdown at a news conference last week, she had no comment and referred questions to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration which will oversee the effort to inspect the gifting shops.
The mayor has said in the past that the gifting shops area “a public safety” issue and police brass has complained that the shops also are fronts for other illegal operations and lead to a spike in crime.