The smoke shop’s landlord, Demers Real Estate, took the retailer to court to have the store evicted. Capitol Hemp won the case because, technically, what it was doing—selling pipes and smoking accessories under the guise of tobacco use only—was not illegal. But the agreement the shop’s owners struck to take back their thousands of dollars of seized inventory forced them to close down the store.
Demers could not be reached for comment.
Stories like this were common for head shops in the District. That is, until DC residents voted to legalize the growing and possession of marijuana and the sale of paraphernalia. Since the law went into effect last year, a new industry of boutique head shops and hydroponic stores has begun to emerge, although not without its roadblocks. After Capitol Hemp shut down in 2012, its co-owner, Adam Eidinger, above, decided to focus his efforts onchanging the law. He led the DC Cannabis Campaign that successfully convinced voters to pass Initiative 71 in 2014.
Even for a marijuana-focused advocacy campaign, Adam struggled to find a landlord who would lease to him. Unable to find office space for the campaign, Adam rented a house under his own name and used it as an office.
“Nobody would rent to us, as soon as they heard what it’s for they were like ‘no, we don’t want to,'” Adam says. “It was full discrimination. We would say, ‘there’s nobody using here, it’s just a campaign office.'”