- The Washington Times - Friday, July 17, 2015

D.C. officials have ordered shut a Northeast convenience store they said was selling synthetic marijuana, marking the first time the city has used new authority to crack down on businesses found selling the drugs.

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs confirmed Thursday that Bladensburg Market Dollar Plus, located at 1109 Bladensburg Road, was ordered to cease all business operations for 96 hours beginning Monday afternoon.

A notice served on an employee of the store states the Metropolitan Police Department and DCRA confirmed that the store was selling synthetic drugs on Friday, the same day that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law legislation that granted Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier authority to shutter businesses found selling.

It was unclear why officials waited until Monday to issue the closure notice as a police department spokeswoman did not provide details.

The market, which was locked and closed Thursday, is registered to Abye Begashaw, according to D.C. business records. He could not be reached for comment.

The owner of a laundromat across the street from Bladensburg Market said the temporary closure was a welcome relief.

“It really brought a bad element to the block,” said Norris Goins.
He said it was obvious people would buy synthetic marijuana from the store and then smoke it on the street.

The drug — known by nicknames such as Scooby Snax, K2 and Bizarro — has been blamed for a series of overdoses that have left people incoherent or unconscious on city streets. But it has also been known to make uses agitated and violent and police have said a man who fatally stabbed a Metro passenger on the Fourth of July may have been using the drug prior to the attack.

Others walking past the market on Bladensburg Road Thursday evening said the store had been selling synthetic marijuana for about two years and that police had previously raided the business.

“It was kept open for the K2, not the groceries,” said one woman who declined to give her name but said food on the shelf was often spoiled.

An iron gate was locked across the front door of the store, but the market bore no obvious signs that it had been officially shuttered by the city — as would bars and clubs that were ordered closed by the chief of police following a violent incident.

Neighborhood residents said that was because someone had broken into the store Wednesday night, shattering the the glass door to which an official notice was attached. Workers came to repair the door early Thursday and locked the iron gate, they said.

Under the new D.C. law, the market owners could be fined up to $10,000 for selling synthetic marijuana at the store. They will also be required to submit a remediation plan to DCRA outlining plans to ensure the drug is no longer sold there.

The market is the second store in a week shut down as part of the city’s crackdown on synthetic marijuana. The Office of the Attorney General announced Tuesday that a D.C. judge approved an order that closes for a year a Bloomingdale store that had repeatedly been caught selling synthetic drugs. Prosecutors had been pursuing litigation against the store’s owner since November.

Prior to the approval of the new legislation Friday, city officials had no quick way to shutter businesses selling the drugs and had to pursue litigation in court or to attempt to revoke a business license through an administration process.

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