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Washington, D.C. Cannabis Company Sues City, Demands Return of $750,000

Mr. Nice Guys DC, Washington’s cannabis business, recently sued DC for more than $750,000 of cash confiscated during raids which took place in 2021.

Damion West and Gregory Wimsatt, Mr. Nice Guys DC owners seek justice for confiscated money. “I’m going to be a voice for the people who don’t have a voice,” West told News4. “I’m not going to stand for it. They have not done anything wrong. We’re operating in a gray space that they created, and the only thing we want is our money back.”

“Like, where is the justice? They come in, kick in our door, raid us, you know take our money,” Wimsatt said.

Two Mr. Nice Guys DC dispensaries were raided by police in August 2021. The lawsuit describes the raid in greater detail, showing how the police took “$67,000 and destroyed two ATMs at the shop while searching the Ninth Street location. A spokesperson for DC’s Metropolitan Police Dept. (MPD) said three people were arrested at the store and charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. The U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia chose not to prosecute those who were arrested,” the lawsuit reads.

While Mr. Nice Guys DC lost the case, their co-owners did not get their money back. “Defendant District of Columbia’s D.C. police (MPD) routinely and unlawfully holds cash seized from individuals who have been arrested—many of whom are never charged with a crime—for months or even years past the point where the government might have any continuing legitimate interest in retaining said cash while providing no process to challenge that retention,” the lawsuit states.

“It’s been close to about $800,000 in product and cash. We specifically requested the cash in this instance. That’s not including loss of damages in product. We’ve had other situations where they’ve actually banned us from our location,” Wimsatt explained.

The co-owners’ attorney, Charles Walton, told The Washington PostThe lawsuit’s main purpose is to recover the cash seized. “D.C. police failed to return the seized money after investigations concluded and related criminal charges were withdrawn or dismissed,” Walton said. “Our goal is to have them produce the information associated with the chain of custody of that money, and to just return it.”

Washington D.C. is a gray zone where marijuana dispensaries are allowed to operate. Adult-use cannabis has been legalized since 2014 when voters approved it. Possession, home cultivation, gifting and possessing cannabis are also permitted. Due to the “Harris rider,” (named in reference to Rep. Andy Harris) a Congressional rider that has been included in the 2014 omnibus bill prevents sales from being legal. To work around this, local dispensaries like Mr. Nice Guys DC sell non-cannabis items and customers receive cannabis as a “gift” with purchase.

Washington, D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (Washington, D.C.) announced in August that it would inspect unlicensed cannabis business owners. The inspections had been delayed until September which created more uncertainty over the future of the businesses.

Luckily, medical cannabis patients have remained a focus for Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who signed a bill in July to allow patients to self-certify themselves for a cannabis prescription, rather than waiting for a doctor’s recommendation. “We have made it a priority over the years to build a more patient-centric medical marijuana program and this legislation builds on those efforts,” Bowser said. “We know that by bringing more medical marijuana patients into the legal marketplace in a timely manner and doing more to level the playing field for licensed medical marijuana providers, we can protect residents, support local businesses, and provide clarity to the community.”

Bowser signed an October 20 bill which allows medical marijuana tourists to also self-certify. With this new law, tourists may obtain a 30-day registration to purchase from dispensaries when they visit the nation’s capital.