ANC 3F commissioners voted on August 18th to oppose an application to open a medical marijuana dispensary at 4215 Connecticut Avenue, on the grounds that the site is already occupied by Pill Plus Pharmacy, which has a lease on the ground-floor storefront until 2028.
The five commissioners present voted unanimously on the motion to oppose the application during a 90-minute virtual meeting, which included a 10-minute presentation by Sulee Clay and Miya Gray, the president and vice president of Uxolo LLC, a DC-based Black-owned, woman-owned small business. Uxolo is one of six Ward 3 applicants competing for a single dispensary license from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, which is scoring them on criteria including ANCs’ comments on the “potential adverse impact of the proposed location to the neighborhood” (as many as 20 points) and the “overconcentration or lack of facilities in the affected Ward” (up to 10 points). Other criteria include security and financing plans. The maximum possible score is 250 points. ABRA’s deadline for ANC feedback is today.
More than half of the meeting was devoted to questions and comments from the public. The commissioners also sought feedback from Van Ness Main Street Executive Director Gloria Garcia, who said the board had met that morning to discuss the matter. While board members did not pass a resolution, Garcia said they did discuss supporting a medical marijuana dispensary, in principle, if “there was available space.”
“It would increase foot traffic,” Garcia said. “It would bring a much-needed service to the neighborhood. It is a wave of the future. And if we’re going to be competitive, the board felt we should support this type of business in the corridor.” (Forest Hills Connection is an editorially independent program of Van Ness Main Street.)
The commissioners, who had not written a resolution or letter on the subject prior to the meeting, spent seven minutes coming up with the language of their motion and voting on it. Commissioner Monika Nemeth initially proposed supporting the Uxolo application “in principle,” though not at that specific location due to questions about the Pill Plus lease. “We don’t want to see a business being pushed out,” Nemeth said.
Commissioner Alexandria Appah, whose single member district includes 4215 Connecticut, said the ABRA application was for that specific location, so that was what the ANC could vote on. Nemeth proposed amending the motion to oppose Uxolo’s application. Commissioners Nemeth, Appah, David Cristeal, Claudette David, and Stan Wall passed the motion unanimously, despite Clay’s protests.
“Frankly, we have no interest in pushing anyone out,” Clay said of Pill Plus Pharmacy. She said the Uxolo team had only recently learned, and was surprised to learn, that Pill Plus intended to stay in the Douglas Development-owned property, and had begun discussions with pharmacy owner Luc Yaya, who was not at the August 18th meeting.
“We are not asking to replace Pill Plus. We’re asking to be given an opportunity to work with Pill Plus,” Clay said.
Appah said she understood, but “as it stands now, we have to vote on what the ABRA license said…. We have to vote on the information that we have.”