Metro Police Department officers searched Mr. Nice Guys, a store selling cigarettes and CBD products on 33rd street on Jan. 30. The owners, who were arrested, deny illegal activity.
The police were searching for narcotics and had raided the same location in December. The business has been the object of much friction between owners of the store, Greg Wimsatt and Damion West, and property owner Hamid Savojbolaghi, who sells used books from the shop downstairs.
The area is a mixed-use zone, meaning it contains both residential properties and small businesses. ANC Commissioner Joe Gibbons said, “Any business has to be cognizant of that, and residents also have to understand that there’s a small business. We’re just concerned about illegal activities.”
The store first came to the attention of neighbors when they reported the smell of marijuana and cars driving down 33rd street the wrong way. Some residents complained about the number of people congregating at the store, and Savojbolaghi has engaged an attorney against the business.
The Yelp site associated with the business, however, states that the owners are well within their legal rights and “have started to offer donations for the DC area.” This is one of the ways in which businesses continue to supply marijuana in the face of a ban on sale, though private consumption has been legalized. Customers buy other products from the store, at elevated prices, and receive a “donation” in return. The raid fits into a larger pattern of police trying to crack down on marijuana stores and pop-up shops as selling it remains illegal.
According to Gibbons, police came to the store armed with weapons and a battering ram, which they used to break through the glass front door. This latest action has physicalized the simmering unrest since the owners moved into the space toward the end of last year. Neighboring business owners and employees declined to comment due to the volatility of the situation.
Gibbons hopes to find a peaceful solution to the issue. “I’m not trying to micromanage what a legal small business sells in Georgetown,” he said. ‘We don’t want the stores raided. I want them to succeed; I just want them to succeed with a legal business.”
Gibbons held a neighborhood meeting with Wimsatt and West and other residents of the area on Feb. 3, but there is no indication of a resolution thus far.
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons