It’s 4:20 on Rhode Island Ave NE


by Nolan Treadway

Not enough Wal-Marts coming to DC for you?   Well, coming March 3, the “Wal-Mart of Weed” will be opening on Rhode Island Ave NE:

The growing franchise sells all of the products and services one would need to grow marijuana or other indoor plants, but does not sell the plant itself.

weGrow D.C. franchisee Alex Wong secured a lease for the store at 1522 Rhode Island Ave, NE. The 2,500 square-foot store will feature a similar layout to weGrow’s West Coast retail stores and will provide a full array of products and services to medical marijuana cultivators and indoor gardening enthusiasts.

The Washington, DC Store is weGrow’s first on the east coast and comes just as DC is setting up the polices that will govern it’s medical marijuana program.  They’re also taking one of the last vacant retail storefronts on RIA that has any parking.  The store will be located two doors down from Flip-It (there is a largeish apartment building in between), at what used to be a used car lot.  It’s near the intersection of RIA, 15th and Franklin (it’s also adjacent to the former DC One-Stop Service Center).

Tucked at the bottom of the press release the man who will operate this franchise, Alex Wong, reveals they are interested in supporting community projects, just not the RIA community (at least not yet):

In preparation for opening, weGrow D.C. will be the official sponsor at the upcoming First Annual Washington DC Medical Marijuana Symposium on Feb 2nd. The symposium is geared to local entrepreneurs to discuss best practices and to address concerns facing this new and unique industry. The event is invitation-only.

I wonder if weGrow or Mr. Wong has reached out to any neighborhood groups or if he’s just trying to worried about getting an ‘in’ with the weed crowd?  The Greater Brookland Garden Club is a very active group, I wonder if they’ll be in touch about helping with the home and garden tour?

I presume because it’s a legitimate commercial business that is within current zoning laws, they are not required to engage the community in any kind of benefits agreement (they’re not selling or growing any marijuana on site, just the equipment to do so).  But given the controversial nature of the store and the community’s well documented hesitations about anything involving drugs, it will be interesting to see if and how they engage the community.

23 thoughts on “It’s 4:20 on Rhode Island Ave NE

  1. I will be interested to see the variety of products they offer. I wouldn’t mind seeing this store here if it truly meets a variety of gardening needs. Time will tell.

  2. Instead of Ward 5 becoming the Beer Capital of DC, we are now the Weed Capital. I wonder how many other weed-related shops we’ll be seeing on RIA and in Ward 5?

  3. When reading your headline, I thought you were talking about my neighbors on the 100 block of RIA NE, they will probably keep this place in business!

      1. I don’t think this is your run-of-the-mill garden supply store. It’s very marijuana-cultivation-centric. Perhaps we could get them to enhance their offerings to include items that the non-weed-growing residents could actually use.

  4. I encourage Mr. Wong to reach out to local community groups and residents. For example, a nice welcome gesture might be to donate some gardening supplies to the Brookland Garden Club or FORIA, enough to beautify a block or even just a corner of Rhode Island Ave nearby. Little gestures like that could go a long way in establishing good ties with local groups and cleaning up a little piece of the neighborhood.

    Still, regardless of your opinion on the crowd this may attract (I do think it’s going to attract a very diverse crowd) this is an opportunity for our neighborhood to be know for something other than abandoned storefronts and too many churches. If this brings more people into the neighborhood, gives them a chance to see the (albeit few) other great businesses in the area, and see the well-maintained streets that many of us call home, I’m all for it.

    1. ENE,

      Has Foria and the Brookland Garden Club reached out to Mr. Wong? If not, why wait? I agree that it will attract a diverse crowd. Medical marijuana need and use reaches across a diverse population. Does anyone know what the hours of operation are for this establishment?

  5. I have to agree with ENE – and I’m nearly across the street. I’m still chasing hookers and junkies out of my back yard. Having a legitimate business replace a vacant lot sounds like a positive step to me.

  6. Isn’t the ANC 5B having a meeting tonight? I think they have to help score the Marijuana Cultivation Centers and they have not done this. I think it’s time that those who are advocates for medical marijuana stand up and negotiate community amenities. Although the Ward 5 cultivation centers are clustered closer to Bladensburg Road, it’s clear from weGrow moving to RIA, that RIA will be impacted and, therefore should reap some amenities.

    1. ANC 5B is having a meeting tonight, but it looks like DC has given them an extension through March 2 to comment on the applications.

      From a ward 5 listserv:

      Good afternoon,

      This message is to inform you that the deadline for comments due to the Department of Health from Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5 regarding Cultivation Center Applications has been extended to Friday, March 2, 2012 at 12:00 Noon ET.

      The Director invites ANCs in the affected ward to comment on the attached cultivation center applications. As defined in the regulations, comments from the ANC should address and will be scored on the following:

      1. The ANCs’ concerns or support regarding the potential adverse impact of the proposed location to the neighborhood.

      2. The ANCs’ concerns or support regarding an overconcentration or lack of cultivation centers or in the affected ward.

      3. The ANCs’ concerns or support regarding the proposed location’s proximity to substance abuse treatment centers, day care centers, and halfway houses.

      A copy of the final regulations published on December 2, 2011 can be found on the Department of Health Medical Marijuana Program webpage at

      We encourage you to continue to monitor the Department of Health Medical Marijuana Program webpage for additional announcements and information regarding the program. The webpage address is

      Patricia M. D’Antonio, RPh, MS, MBA, CGP
      Program Manager, Pharmaceutical Control Division
      Health Regulation and Licensing Administration
      DC Department of Health
      899 N. Capitol Street, NE
      Second Floor
      Washington, DC 20002

  7. Good with the delay, there is still time to ask for amenities. Here’s a short list:

    1. Have Weed-related businesses on and around RIA contribute to fund a playground and dog park near Rite Aide. In one of the RIA Task Force meetings residents requested a playground and dog park in this area.

    2. Set up and fund a Marijuana Anonymous group simliar to the Metropolis Club on RIA.

    3. Provide community education programs/talks throughout Ward 5 for children and adults on medical marijuana.

    4. Help fund the green team to keep RIA clean and litter-free.

    1. I wonder if a business like this, where a light bulb costs $94, can even make it a year on RIA. Maybe promote them a little, let them get their feet under them, before asking them to contribute to these worthy ideas. Or start funding after some establishment period. Lets say, I want them to have the money to contribute.

    2. Woodie-

      I’m pretty much on-board with all of that… let me make a quick edits for you:

      1. Encourage all businesses on and around RIA contribute to fund a playground and dog park near Rite Aide. In one of the RIA Task Force meetings residents requested a playground and dog park in this area.

      Other than that, good stuff!

      1. Ene,

        Great, I like that edit.


        I’ve talked to a number of people about this and they feel the Weed shop on RIA will be immensely popular. We have nothing to loose. The only thing I see impacting weGrow’s revenue is if Walmart or Costco decide to offer these same supplies. It might just happen one day!

    3. All the DC dog parks have to be done through DCRA. I am on the board of the Langdon Dog Park (located off 22nd St just south of RIA – the largest DC dog park) and it took nearly 8 years to get this one estabished. The process is now in place for new dog parks (it wasn’t 8 years ago) but I believe the funding through at least 2012 is already earmarked. DC dog parks must be on district land and there is none in the area that you are talking about. Sorry. But come to Langdon Dog Park it is very under used right now – although we are hoping that will change come Spring.

      1. Andi,

        Tha’ts only if it is a government dog park. The RIA Task Force was not specific about whether the playground/dog park would be on a private or government site. Rite Aid might be willing to do something like MacDonald’s by offering a play area (w/ dogpark) on their property. As you may now, most of the lot isn’t used for parking.

        AFAIK, you were the victim of NIMBYism with respect to finding a suitable site for the Ward 5 dc dog park. The skate bowl, dog park, etc. were all the result of nobody else wanting those things in their parks or communities, so Langdon Park got them.

        To help increase utilization of the dog park, Foria wants to put on “Screen on the Green” events. The amphitheatre in Langdon Park, just a stones through away from the dog park would be the perfect place to have weekly dog flicks, even bring in a food truck before and during the movies, including doggie treats. Here are a few reasons why more people aren’t using the Langdon Dog Park in Ward 5: 1) it’s too far, 2) they don’t like the gravel surface, their dogs prefer grass, 3) drug use in Langdon park, 4) poor lighting.

        Your “legalize it” comment might happen one day. I think what we will be seeing is doctors who specialize in pain treatment. I’ve been told it’s easy in California to get a prescription for medical marijuana. All you have to do is tell the doctor you are in pain. The RIA Small Area plan calls for Medical Offices on the easternmost section of RIA. So, I suppose that will be one more of the places along RIA where we will be seeing the medical marijuana pain providers located.

  8. Believe it or not, I use hydroponics for good! Yep, I have an indoor, dirt-free garden. So, I welcome this. I do, however, wish that they would market to ALL growers, and not focus on weed growers. Hydroponic gardens are one way that everyone can get more fresh vegetables in their diets, and are particularly suited for smaller urban homes and yards. Maybe it’s asking too much for them to have expertise on a wide variety of plants, but I don’t see there being THAT much continuous demand from the handful of places that will legally be allowed to grow marijuana in DC. If they instead promoted urban gardening…well, then they could LEGALLY and ETHICALLY market to all citizens of the District, and surrounding communities.

  9. Hopefully those of us who do not need weed yet but do need seeds and compost can find something to buy–business owners sometimes respond to potential customer requests, for say, vegetable seeds, worm castings or beneficial nematodes.

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