Quasi-underground cannabis events have become prolific in the District. On any given night of the week, a cannabis enthusiast or seeker can find several events across each of the City’s quadrants, often as many as nine in a night. In a bazaar-like setting, event attendees will have the option to purchase or consume many forms of cannabis from a large vendor roster. In response to the increasing frequency and exposure of these events, the MPD has been devoting considerable resources to crack down on these speakeasies, causing tensions to rise between law enforcement and event vendors. Since January 2018, the MPD has raided at least ten events, either subject to a warrant or in response to public safety concerns and complaints from neighbors. Tensions seem to have reached a boiling point this summer, with the MPD executing at least six raids in June and July 2018.

Why now? The MPD has attributed its recent prosecutorial efforts of events to public safety. The 5th District has spearheaded this effort, creating a Crime Suppression Unit which coordinates and carries out many of these raids. In a statement MPD’s 5th District Commander attributed an increase in violent crime in the area to cannabis events in Northeast. Following one of the June raids, Council member McDuffie (Ward 5) issued a press release regarding increasing efforts to crackdown on illegal cannabis events. The public messaging of the Unit and the Councilman is to prevent violent crimes that are occurring in the vicinity of these events. And the fact that the Unit has uncovered handguns at multiple raids further justifies its public safety objective.

But is the threat of violence the main reason for this increased police scrutiny?

Perhaps it’s the saturation of the “market” and the growing population of vendors and participants that are now too numerous for the MPD to ignore. Perhaps it’s the widespread and inconspicuous advertising from event promoters and vendors across social media platforms. Perhaps it’s the attraction to out-of-state vendors and customers, who transport cannabis back to their home jurisdictions. Perhaps it’s the over 250 K2 overdoses that occurred in July 2018.

Whatever the reason or reasons – it is clear that the MPD will continue to raid events in an effort to disrupt the growing subterranean cannabis economy.

This article was written for Local’D by John Mcgowan. LOCAL’d is a helping hand to the companies that strengthen your community in the Washington, DC area. Helping them to grow through financial and promotional support, LOCAL’d is the sidekick every superhero would want.