Havana Tobacco “Smoke Shop” Set to Open on 600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
by Larry Janezich
The former long-time print shop at 607 Pennsylvania Avenue looks like it’s set to become the Havana Tobacco Mart Smoke Shop and begin marketing Cigars, Hookah products, CBD, Kratom, and Delta 8.
The last two items may raise some resident eyebrows. Kratom is known and used as a psychostimulant and a pain reliever. Although Kratom is currently legal in the US, some states consider it a controlled substance. Kratom is widely available at DC smoke shops.
Delta-8 THC is extracted from hemp-derived CBD and is legal under federal law, but its sale has been banned in some 14 states. It’s chemically similar to cannabis and produces a similar effect. Delta-8 is available in DC, though apparently not as readily as Kratom.
This comes at a time when the DC Council is taking a hard look at stores and delivery services which skirt the law by giving away cannabis as a gift to accompany purchase of exorbitantly priced retail items such as stickers, pencils, and tee shirts. Last week, the City Council passed a bill, introduced by Council Chair Mendelsohn, that originally would have allowed city agencies to take action against retail operations engaging in such gifting activities, including shutting down operations and levying fines. Those enforcement provisions were removed from the bill at the last minute over objections that it penalized entrepreneurship of DC residents involved in the gifting trade and what passed the Council was an extension through January 2022 for expired medical marijuana cards. Medical marijuana dispensaries have suffered during the pandemic because of difficulty in renewing medical marijuana cards and patients turned to gifting operations as an alternative. Mendelsohn said regarding the watered down bill, that the gifting operations would eventually have to be addressed. There is already at least one of the gifting cannabis shops on the 600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.
DC voters approved the legalizing the possession of cannabis for personal use and home cultivation of small amounts of cannabis in 2014, but it can’t be sold. Medical marijuana outlets have been sanctioned and regulated by the city for patients with doctor-approved medical marijuana cards issued by the DC Department of Health. Those medical cannabis outlets are licensed by the Alcohol Beverage Control Board after the local ANC weighs in on the application. The ANC appears to have no voice in the establishment of a smoke shop.