Loose Lips

Vince Gray Cleans Up the Streets

Vince Gray and the offending grinder

Watch out, synthetic marijuana pushers of the District—Mayor Vince Gray is on your case. The mayor took to the streets of Petworth this afternoon to convince stores not to sell the drug that the Department of Health says will turn users into zombies.

The tour—which is becoming something of an annual affair for the mayor—got off to a rough start, when the first cashier Gray confronted claimed that he didn't speak much English. Not only did the clerk not know what synthetic marijuana was, he didn't even know what regular ol' marijuana was.

Gray wasn't buying it. After showing the cashier that everyone else in the room was familiar with the concept of pot, he told him to bring over the store's license. "Knew what I was talking about when I ask for a business license, huh?" the mayor deadpanned. (The routine looked a little tacky to LL, especially after the cashier told reporters that English is his second language, after Amharic.)

Later, Gray defended his skepticism about the man's language skills. The mayor claimed that a person on the street told him that the store did sell synthetic marijuana, information Gray said "would raise questions about the language issue."

The investigation went better at another shop, where the mayor confiscated a marijuana grinder adorned with Bob Marley's face. He also discovered two boxes of rolling papers at a gas station. (For stores that don't generate at least 25 percent of their revenue selling loose tobacco, the papers are illegal.) The illicit smoking supplies will be turned over the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

While no synthetic marijuana was found, Gray asked cashiers to fill out a form promising they wouldn't carry any. Among the 10 businesses that signed on, Gray received promises from a dry cleaner, two restaurants, and a nail salon—places LL doubts needed much convincing to not sell "spice" in the first place. Business owners will receive framed copy of their pledge not to sell the drug.

After a drug paraphernalia-free tour of a Yes! Organic Market on Georgia Avenue NW, Gray explained that his visits were meant to stress the importance of not carrying the drug.

Nadine J. Parker, the Wards 3 and 4 director with the District of Columbia Prevention Center, had a more visceral explanation. The businesses should be just as concerned as the mayor is, Parker explained, because of what kids on synthetic marijuana will do.

"They're going to go into the stores and rob these places," Parker says.

Photo by Will Sommer

  • truth hurts

    I'm guessing one city isn't in favor of legalizing weed.

  • Bob

    Lol, showboating nonsense. Wtg Elliott Ness! Take a bite out of crime did you there, McGruff? Promise not to sell? How about make A Law, you know, legislation with prescribed punishments for violation? What a f'ing joke. How about we make the same for councilmen, ex mayors on the take and Mayors who finance campaigns dirty?! Good riddance. When is your term up again?

  • drez

    "Gray wasn't buying it....(The routine looked a little tacky to LL, especially after the cashier told reporters that English is his second language, after Amharic.)
    Black on black crime is okay so long as it's multicultural?

  • tntdc

    What do rolling papers and a pot grinder have to do with spice? They're for marijuana.

    Plenty of these stores sell crack pipes- maybe that would have been better to attack.

  • Diane B.

    The recently introduced Decriminalization of Mary J Bill includes decriminalization of paraphernalia. so, Gray's efforts are futile and plain showboating. (Just like last time in Ward 8)

    LL- Should have gotten a quote from Zuckerberg for this story.

  • Nic

    Ohhh god, what a terrible terrible little camera-focused adventure. Apparently the mayor thinks you have to speak english to run a bodega in DC. Wrong. DC likes it's diversity, thanks very much.

  • DCTransplant

    Can we have a "caption this photo" contest?

    I'll start ...

    Gray: "Disposable fangs?"

  • RealDC

    WTF is this? Who is advising the Mayor to do this? Geez! Mayor Uno City is going into businesses to see if they are selling fake pot? That is some bama shit on every level!

    Will Walmart sell fake pot..... low, low prices can work for pot as well.

    When Mayor Uno City walk into his 6 Walmarts to check if they are in compliance with their workman's comp, health codes, break rooms, scheduling, tax certificate etc... No he will NOT! So why is he doing this waste of time stunt???


    I voted for Mayor Uno City but his evolution into this "gimmicky" bama is becoming too much to take. I am leaning his way again but his decision to veto the living wage bill will probably determine that. For the 5 council members that voted against it, YOU WILL NEVER GET MY VOTE OR SUPPORT FOR OFFICE AGAIN!! The WIMP crew should not be in office!!


    FOR REAL!!

  • Will Sommer

    @Diane B.

    No Zukerberg in this one, but if you like quotes from him, you'll love this week's column.


  • Thomas

    What a jackass

  • Gray Matter

    Really now, Vince. This Ethiopian shopkeeper learned how to answer questions about illegal activities by watching you on the nightly news!! Play dumb, tell the questioner you don't understand, say your attorney doesn't want you to speak out, and so on and so on...

  • truth hurts

    My caption this photo entry: Say wut?

  • Enuff

    Did anyone see the tv clip. He beats down the poor kid behind the counter like he's a G-man. Isnt the city removing pot penalties and making it legit?? Why bother with this BS stunt when there are so many real problems to deal with.

  • mizwillis

    Wait, did I just agree with Drez?????
    I THINK I did. Not really sure however, because I'm a bit confused by his post.

    Anyhow, I do believe this spice thing needs to be nipped in the bud (No pun intended). From what I hear, it is the 'drug' of choice for many people of all ages who want the 'legal' high.

    Well that 'legal high' comes at a 'substantially high' price. DEATH OR BRAIN DAMAGE. While it may appear Mayor Gray was grandstanding to some, it appears to me he is attempting to make the unsuspecting public aware of the dangers of the substance and to frighten the shop owners who provide or have potential to provide it.

    I'm not a politician and I don't do Mayor; but I would have sent out a brigade of staffers to line up the shops with more potential to violate the law and provided them with the certificates to be placed in a visible spot near the front door.

  • http://catchthemyoung.org Catch Them Young, Inc

    Kudos, this was a tremendous initiative. I tried to make it but had another obligation. Please let me know when the next one will occur. We need to continue to make our streets safe for our youth. Together we can make major impact!

  • Idiot Proof

    What most of you are failing to realize is the fact that synthetic Marijuana is nothing like the real thing. This stuff is dangerous and kids in this city are smoking it without knowing what it is or what it can do. Kids are being hospitalized after their first time smoking this stuff. But all you smart-a$$es can do is put up sarcastic and negative comments cuz you're scared getting rid of this product will ruin your hopes of legalizing Marijuana.

    Get your heads out of your a$$e's and take a look at what this stuff does. If you don't, it could come back to haunt you one way or another.

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  • john from silver spring

    uh..this is not turning ANYONE into a "zombie". it gives you maybe a 10 min high that may be similar to some weak mexican schwag weed. its not making anyone crazy. major fuss over nothing