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The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

ANC Updates: Licenses En Route for Hilltop Tap Room, Dispensary

Georgetown’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2E unanimously passed two resolutions at their Jan. 29 meeting.

The resolutions will extend a stipulated liquor license for Hilltop Tap Room, a student bar located on-campus at Georgetown University, and protest an application for a new medical cannabis retailer license. John McGowan and Meredith Kinner, counsels for Georgetown Supply, a new medical cannabis dispensary, presented to the council their plan for the store, to be located at 1251 Wisconsin Ave. Ben Sislen (LAW ’10), co-founder of Hilltop Tap Room, presented his case to the council. 

Hilltop Tap Room, a bar and restaurant located in the Healey Family Student Center, is currently operating under a license belonging to Georgetown University called a Temporary Operating Retail Permit (TORP), which means an establishment can begin operating and selling liquor before the license is officially transferred. The extended license will allow them to continue operations independently of the university until the approval process is completed for a full Class C liquor license, used for businesses that plan to sell alcohol and allow drinking on premises.

Sislen told commissioners during the meeting that the on-campus establishment provides a valuable service to the Georgetown community. 

“We have a great spot at Hilltop,” Sislen said at the meeting. “I think we provide a tremendous service for the students at Georgetown, the faculty, administration and everyone who’s in the Georgetown atmosphere. We’d love to continue under our license.” 

Gwendolyn Lohse, chair of ANC 2E, said the protests function as a way for the ANC to work out an agreement and prevent possible issues with constituents before a business selling alcohol gets its full license. 

With the introduction of formal medical cannabis regulation to Washington, D.C., these same methods are being put to the test on medical cannabis retailers in Georgetown. Medical cannabis retailers can only sell with a license from the Alcohol and Beverage Cannabis Administration (ABCA). 

“The settlement process, which begins with a friendly ANC protest of the license, is a proactive partnership between the community and operators entering or expanding their business in Georgetown. The process promotes relationship building. With the recent introduction of cannabis-related ABCA licenses, a formal role for ANC Settlements is just kicking off,” Lohse wrote to The Hoya.

Georgetown Supply’s license application came as the D.C. Council changed regulations around marijuana gifting shops. Before the legal adjustment, gifting shops, which “gift” a patron marijuana with the purchase of a T-shirt or sticker, essentially acted as a loophole to D.C. code, which requires that cannabis retailers only sell to people with medical marijuana licenses. 

Paulina Inglima/The Hoya | Georgetown’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2E unanimously passed two resolutions at their Jan. 29 meeting.

According to McGowan, shops that are going through the process can be identified with a plaque in the window. 

He added that stores currently advertising themselves as marijuana “gifting” shops who have not started the formal medical marijuana licensing process are at risk of being penalized, allowing legally open stores to exist without unregulated competition. 

“There will be fines by either ABCA or another agency,” McGowan said during the meeting. “I believe they will be levied against shops that are not going through the process, but they are allowing those like my client, those that are making a good faith effort to go through the process and are pretty deep in the process that have applied or that are going through the protests.”

McGowan pitched the store as a sleek and professionally designed establishment, which will feature a lobby area in the front of the store where patrons must prove that they are over 21 years old with an ID and show their medical marijuana license.

Citizens in the District can legally self-certify, effectively writing their own doctor’s note. McGowan explained that these new regulations will result in cannabis sales being closely tracked to prevent any illegal activity. 

“So it’s a closed loop system as far as who you can purchase from and what you can purchase and it’s all regulated by ABCA,” McGowan said. “Every retailer has to have seed-to-sale tracking, which means their software has to sync with ABCA’s software and so every product that comes into the facility is tracked to the final consumer.” 

Georgetown Supply is the first store in the Georgetown neighborhood to fulfill the District’s ABCA licensing process. Up ‘N Smoke is the only additional established store to have begun the process of applying.

There are an estimated 15 gifting stores in the ANC 2E in total, according to Commissioner Topher Matthews.

McGowan said that, with the license, Georgetown Supply will look forward to being fully compliant with the evolving local laws. 

“As of tomorrow and from an enforcement priority perspective, it is unregulated shops and regulated shops, and Georgetown Supply will be a regulated shop in full compliance with ABCA regulations,” McGowan said. 

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