Mr. Nice Guys, a D.C. weed store, sues city over money MPD seized
A D.C. cannabis business has filed suit against the city for damages and has demanded the return of a total of $70,000 that was seized in police raids that took place last year. The raids resulted in criminal charges however, there were no convictions.
Lawyers representing Mr. Nice Guys is a business with stores throughout D.C. that “gifts” marijuana to customers who purchase other products -which is a well-known legal loophole within D.C. — filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last week, alleging it was because D.C. police failed to return the cash seized following investigations had concluded and the associated criminal accusations were dropped or dismissed. The lawsuit seeks $750,000 in legal costs and damages.
“Our objective is to have them submit the documents related to the custody chain for the money, and then simply return the money. It’s that simple,” said Charles Walton the attorney who represents Mr. Nice Guys, which was first launched in 2014.
The site, which is recognizable by its signature happy-face logo, features a selection of cannabis-related products, including THC Gummies, lollipops, and chips. Each item is accompanied by a description that reminds the buyer to note that the “dollar amount is used to buy an art print” and that the item “is your present.
” The Mr. Good Guys is taken over by at least three times in the various locations in the city Walton said.
The system is a component of the complicated market, which is legally unclear, which was established within D.C. after voters in 2014 voted for Initiative 71, legalizing the possession of tiny quantities of marijuana. Congress which has supervision over D.C. blocked city officials from creating a legal recreational market.
In lieu of the legal cannabis dispensaries in recreational areas, a plethora of shops quickly popped up under the section of Initiative 71 that permits adults to give up to one ounce of marijuana another adult so long as “no cash, goods, or service is transferred.”
The shops instead sell other goods such as apparel and art, or motivating speeches with seemingly extravagant prices. They also offer customers a “gift” in the form of cannabis along with the purchase.
The shops are largely unregulated, and police occasionally search stores and arrest employees of the numerous gift shops throughout the district. The raids could be motivated by complaints about shops, or any other crime or violence linked to the shop, according to police.
In the past year this year, in the last year the City Council has initiated efforts to crack down on the enforcement of shops, which some council members have stated are taking business away from those city’s seven licensed medical dispensaries.
In April the council only narrowly rejected the legislation that would have permitted D.C. weed stores to impose harsh civil fines on gift shops. Then, at the beginning of August, it was announced that the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) announced that it would conduct inspections of gift shops for tax, health code, and licensing violations.
The lawsuit that was filed last week is focused on two raids that occurred on the same day August 2021. In those raids, police with warrants conducted searches at the two Mr. Nice Guys weed store locations located at 409 Eighth Street SE and 1922 Ninth Street NW.
According to the suit, police confiscated more than $67,000 as well as destroyed two ATMs in the shop during a search at the Ninth Street location. An MPD spokesperson confirmed that three individuals were detained at the shop weed store and accused of possessing intent to distribute marijuana and possession with the intent to distribute controlled substances.
Three were also arrested following the raid inside the Eighth Street shop, according to court reports. Two of them were accused of possessing the intention of distributing marijuana and the third, wearing the uniform of a security guard was accused of possessing with the intention to distribute carrying a firearm as well as other charges of being in possession of a firearm registered but not with authorization.
The police seized around 15 pounds worth of marijuana in the store as well as about $6,200 in shop cash from Damani Batchler one of the employees who was identified as a party in the case according to court documents as well as the lawsuit.
Batchelor entered into a deferred prosecution arrangement, and after completing community service hours, the charges were dropped weed store. The lawyers for Mr. Nice Guys argue in court papers that since all charges were dismissed or not pursued and the cash taken from the shop shouldn’t need to be used as evidence and instead returned.
“Defendant District of Columbia’s D.C. police (‘MPD’) regularly and illegally seizes cash from those who are arrested and many of them have never been charged with a crime — for many months or even years after the point at which the government has a legal right to keep the cash, but provides no avenue to challenge the preservation,” the lawsuit reads.
MPD addressed questions on the matter to officials from the D.C. Office of the Attorney General and the office declined to comment citing ongoing litigation. An official for mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) who is included in the case, was unable to answer a query for comments.
In a recent lawsuit submitted to the District of Columbia’s U.S. District Court, the company’s attorneys claimed that “D.C. police failed to restore the seized money when investigations completed and related criminal charges were abandoned or dismissed.” The lawsuit asks for $750,000 in damages and court costs.