The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Top D.C. pot activist plans to reopen Capitol Hemp in Adams Morgan

Adam Eidinger, owner of the Capitol Hemp store, was forced to shut down his Columbia Road NW shop more than two years ago. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
Placeholder while article actions load

If the D.C. government hadn’t forced him to shutter his Capitol Hemp shop in 2012, Adam Eidinger, who spearheaded efforts to legalize possession of marijuana through a citywide vote in November, says marijuana would not be legal in the District come Thursday.

And now, more than two years later, Eidinger said he plans to reopen the store, which once again will sell hemp products, bongs, vaporizers and other products related to the soon-to-be-legal plant. According to Eidinger, who chairs the DC Cannabis Campaign, a lease for a 1,200-square-foot shop in the 1700 block of Columbia Road NW should be finalized in a week.

[Everything you need to know to stay out of jail when pot is legal in D.C.]

In October 2012, D.C. police raided two Capitol Hemp locations — one in Adams Morgan and another in Chinatown — arrested six employees and seized $350,000 worth of glassware from the shops, arguing they were in violation of the city’s drug laws. To get their merchandise back and avoid prosecution, Eidinger and his partner, Alan Amsterdam, agreed to close the shops.

Amsterdam will be a partner in the newest incarnation of Capitol Hemp.

Eidinger noted that if the raid hadn’t happened, he wouldn’t have led the ultimately successful (so far) effort to legalize marijuana in the nation’s capital, something that seemed implausible five years ago.

“That’s why we did the initiative,” he said, referring to Initiative 71, which D.C. voters overwhelmingly approved to legalize marijuana.

So what will be different this time around? For one, Eidinger said, people will actually be allowed to talk about pot in the store. In 2012, if people came into the shop and asked for something to use to smoke their weed, they would be kicked out of the shop and told the products in Capitol Hemp were only for smoking legal substances. Now, so long as marijuana is legal in the city, Eidinger said, talk of pot can be out in the open in his shop. (It will still be illegal to sell the weed itself in the District.)

“If you said you were going to use the pipe for marijuana, we would tell you to leave,” Eidinger says. “We don’t have to play that game anywhere.”

And in keeping with current smoking trends, the store will have a bigger vaporizer selection than in the past.

Eidinger said he hopes the store will be open by April 20, more commonly known as 4/20.

As of Feb. 26, 2015 marijuana was made legal in D.C.—sort of. Here are the ins and outs of the complex pot law. (Video: Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)