Capitol Hemp to Close DC Stores on August 1

by Prince Of Petworth April 10, 2012 at 11:30 am 28 Comments

Capitol Hemp first opened in Apr. 2008 at 1802 Adams Mill Road, NW in Adams Morgan. They opened their 2nd location in Apr. 2010 at 519 H Street, NW in Chinatown. In Oct. 2011 their stores were raided by MPD.

1802 Adams Mill Road, NW

Yesterday store co-owner Adam Eidinger released a lengthy press release:

“Capitol Hemp, DC’s only source for high quality hemp clothing and accessories, should be celebrating its four-year anniversary since opening its doors on April 20, 2008. Instead, the company, which employs ten people, begins the arduous task of permanently closing down its Adams Morgan (1802 Adams Mill Rd, NW) and Chinatown (519 H St, NW) stores on August 1, 2012.”

Continues after the jump.

“The decision to close the doors of Capitol Hemp is not an easy one but it’s the best option of the dreadful ones available,” says Alan Amsterdam, co-owner and managing partner of Capitol Hemp’s controversial boutique, which specializes in artisan glass pipes. “I’m proud of our team’s professionalism in how they handled themselves since we were raided last October. We are going to be focused on customer service and quality products up until our last day August 1, 2012.”

Capitol Hemp showcased glass art that pushed the boundaries of functional glass; glass art created by employing techniques including Electroform (fusing copper and glass), Fuming (blowing oxidized gold/silver into the glass), Graal Work (blown glass that is etched or sandblasted with a decoration), Dichro (multiple layers of metal oxides in the glass) and uranium glass that glows brilliant green under UV light.

Capitol Hemp raised expectations among the DC Metropolitan Area’s functional glass enthusiasts by offering unique pieces crafted by highly sought-after American glass artists. The store sells functional art objects, including work by Hybrid Glass, AKM, Salt, Marble Slinger, Snic, Iladelph, Toro, Mike Higgins, Zach Puchowitz, Mike Fro, Lace Face, Kind, Darby, Syn, Sovereignty, Adam Sultan, Eric Ross, Hops, Fat Mike and hundreds of others. “Capitol Hemp’s comprehensive selection of art captured the creative explosion of functional glass blowing that will continue all over America, but not in Washington, DC after August 1,” says Amsterdam.

For now, the stores remain DC’s top sellers of eco-friendly, non-drug, industrial hemp products including the best selection of hemp clothing, food, cosmetics, paper, bags, yarn, and even fiberboard for building projects. At both locations, the stores’ construction utilized more than 2,000 lbs of hemp fiberboard, and despite the wear and tear by tens of thousands of customers, the hemp fiberboard’s durability is on full display today.

However, the selling of hemp products and the stores’ education outreach on hemp is ending as well, due to the deferred prosecution agreement that states both stores must close on August 1, 2012. While no hemp was seized in the October 2011 DC Metropolitan Police Department raids, it is noteworthy that the store’s hemp neon sign was said to represent hemp’s genetic cousin ‘marijuana’ according to the search warrant affidavit. The warrant for the October raids also cited publications and videos on the subjects of organic farming, cannabis policy, civil liberties, and books written to educate people on how to protect their constitutional rights during police encounters. The stores also offered books on the history of hemp in the United States, including historical accounts of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who were both farmers and advocates of the versatile crop. A copy of the warrant can be seen here http://dcist.com/2011/11/police_affidavit_justifies_capitol.php. A copy of the agreement Capitol Hemp made with the US Attorney is available upon request.

The Adams Morgan and Chinatown stores were designed by local architect and artist César Maxit in collaboration with Amsterdam and Eidinger. Since its opening, Capitol Hemp has championed free speech by providing Maxit and the DC51 Artist Collective space and by hosting events to display the collective’s politically charged art covering local, environmental and human rights issues.

Capitol Hemp was active in numerous hemp movement initiatives and supported efforts to reform America’s archaic hemp laws. These laws prohibit non-drug, industrial hemp farming in the United States, even though it is legal to import hemp fiber and seed products. In 2010 Capitol Hemp donated $25,000 to Proposition 19, a California voter initiative that sought to legalize all forms of cannabis, including industrial hemp farming. The initiative failed by three percentage points due in part to infighting in the reform community.

Store co-owner Adam Eidinger, who was the Communication Director for the group VoteHemp.com prior to the launch of Capitol Hemp, is a nationally known figure in the hemp industry. Eidinger is the co-creator of Hemp History Week, a national marketing and educational week of events that celebrates its third year June 4 – 10, 2012. Eidinger and Eric Steenstra, founder and president of Vote Hemp, publicly read the newly-discovered diaries of USDA Botanist Lyster Dewey in Capitol Hemp for the 1st Annual Hemp History Week in 2010. The diaries and photos proved to the world that industrial hemp was grown on the site of the Pentagon until the mid 1930’s for US government research. Dewey’s life long exploration into different strains of fiber varieties of hemp paid off during World War II when hemp supplies from Asia were cut off and US farmers grew over 400,000 acres of hemp in 1944. A story featuring the Dewey diaries in the Washington Post can be viewed here http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/12/AR2010051204933.html.

Prior to Capitol Hemp opening its doors, Eidinger was an outspoken figure on the American hemp issue. In 2009 he planted hemp seeds on the lawn of the DEA in Arlington with farmers and other leaders of the hemp industry who were frustrated by federal policy that denies such a useful crop to American farmers. A video of the protest and subsequent arrests garnered widespread attention and can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGkDovjAl6Y.

“I’m deeply saddened by the tough decision we made to close Capitol Hemp,” says co-founder Adam Eidinger. “This is a set-back for hemp enthusiasts everywhere and a sign that the nation’s drug laws are victimizing law-abiding businesses without good reason. I never expected we would be able to open Capitol Hemp under the reign of George Bush without problems, but under Democratic control we have been harassed, raided, and threatened with bankruptcy.”

Capitol Hemp generated more than $300,000 in local tax revenue, gave health care to its employees, sponsored the DC Roller Girls and donated money to local police and fire union charities. “The story of Capitol Hemp’s demise is the story of the war on drugs being enforced by DC government as a war on free speech,” says Eidinger. “Why is DC shooting itself in the foot?”

  • It’s absurd that these guys have been forced to close.

  • The Real Jason

    Ridiculous. Is this a police state? Martial law? Very upsetting. This city is not nearly as progressive as it thinks it is.

    • I don’t think this city thinks it is as progressive as you think it thinks it is.

      • The Real Jason

        More so a shot at the young hipsters insistent that DC is a food,culture and entertainment mecca.

  • Anonymous

    By glass “art” do they mean bongs and glass bowls?

    • eric_in_ledroit

      I for one am incredibly thankful that the government is in the business of deciding which handmade glass art is or is not a pipe and imprisoning people on the basis of what it decides. I feel that this keeps our country Safe and Secure against terrorists.

      • please explain how we went from the government forcing them to close (which isn’t right) to the gov’t keeping us safe from terrorists?

        • elp

          it’s called sarcasm. recognize?

    • Anonymous

      I’m pretty sure the answer to this question is “yes.” I personally love the term “functional glass,” which recognizes the glass as instrumental to something but fails to recognize what that something is: smoking weed.

      Just as a messaging point, regardless of where you come down on the policy behind this DPA and store closures: I read this and was instantly cynical.

  • Vanessa

    How embarrassing for DC, I totally agree with Eidinger. This seems to be more of a war on free speech. Captiol Hemp is a wonderful attribute to DC and supports local groups and organizations – hemp related or NOT! Why can’t we show them the same respect they’ve shown DC?

  • jdc

    Can someone sum up what actually happened? There was a search warrant, a raid and then a prosecution agreement. What were they charged with and what did they agree to?

    • Anonymous

      Well, from the dcist link, it appears that the cops got a warrant to raid the place for being in violation of the DC Code section regarding the sale of drug paraphernalia, meaning at least that a judge found there was probable cause to believe both that the law had been violated and that there would be evidence of that crime on the premises. Specifically, at least one cop apparently had a conversation with a shop employee that led him and the judge to believe that this place was more head shop than artesinal hemp products and “functional art” for home-tobacco enthusiasts.

      From the letter’s mention of a deferred prosecution agreement in which the owners agreed to close up shop, it appears that, rather than going to trial, they agreed to shutter the stores rather than face prosecution on the charges, and that was that. The “other options” mentioned in the letter likely meant some combination of: going to trial, having all the evidence made public, facing conviction and a possible criminal fine for the business and/or jail time for its employees and owners, forfeiture of all the seized evidence (probably a significant part of inventory), and (at the very least) incurring a ton of legal fees for their troubles. Facing that list of options, I’d probably break the lease and close my doors, too.

  • Patrick Murphy

    What a disgrace, DC gov screwing them and the rest of us, too.

  • Stating the Obvious

    How come he didn’t mention that some of the stores had individual-use levels of marijuana found hidden in the bathroom, etc. and that some of the employees had weed on them while working in the store?

    • _


      • Do you really need a source? Have you been there? The employees physically smell of weed.

        • _

          Yes. Facts are relevant while inflammatory accusations derail a legitimate conversation.

      • Stating the Obvious

        The police report from the Adams Morgan store clearly lists a small, personal-use level of marijuana was sized from the store. The report is public record. The Chinatown store also had grinders with weed also seized. That report is also public record.

    • Anonymous

      So? How is this different from any restaurant (and probably a lot of lobbying firms) in the city?

      • Anonymous


        • Anonymous

          No source for the lobbying firms. But you know how I know you’ve never worked in a service industry?

  • rockcreekrunner

    ahh, marijuana. exposing the hypocrisy of small-government conservatives and big-government democrats, while thousands and thousands of people die in the struggle to meet market demand.

    • Rhody

      Not sure “Thousands and thousands” of people die in a rush to meet market demand. Also not sure what “big government” Democratic hypocrisy is being exposed. But I do think that drug policy in this country (and marijuana policy in particular) could use some grounding in reality (i.e. clear numbers of deaths directly or indirectly related to various substances, reforming sentencing guidelines, economic impacts of decriminalizing/legalizing various substances, etc, etc, etc…)

  • Anonymous

    MPD is going to raid Sur La Table and shut them down next, because, you know, you could totally murder someone with a steak knife that you bought from there.

    • JL

      Not commenting on whether weed should be legal or not, but your analogy would really only work if Sur La Table sold books/videos and did workshops on “how to murder someone with a steak knife” and donated $25K to a group trying to legalize killing people with steak knives.

      • Anonymous

        And if Sur la Table’s employees were out front handing out flyers and telling passersby they had just what they need if they wanted to off someone with a steak knife. And if they made 80% of their revenues from the sale of steak knives.

        But why belabor the point?

  • molly

    well this is crummy. I buy most of my body products there (hemp lotions and fragrances, lip balm, etc) and I like being able to support a local business.


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