Code of the District of Columbia

This section will be modified by the following acts when they become effective:

§ 47–2844. Regulations; suspension or revocation of licenses; bonding of licensees authorized to collect moneys; exemptions.

(a) The Council of the District of Columbia and Mayor are further authorized and empowered to make any regulations that may be necessary in furtherance of the purpose of this chapter and the Mayor is further authorized and empowered to suspend or revoke any license issued hereunder when, in the Mayor's judgment, such is deemed desirable in the interest of public decency or the protection of lives, limbs, health, comfort, and quiet of the citizens of the District of Columbia, or for any other reason the Mayor may deem sufficient.

(a-1)(1) In accordance with § 2-509, the Mayor shall revoke the license of any licensee who knowingly has permitted on the licensed premises:

(A) The illegal sale, negotiation for sale, or use of any controlled substance as that term is defined in Chapter 9 of Title 48, or the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, approved October 27, 1970 (84 Stat. 1243; 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq.);

(B) The possession, sale, or negotiation for sale of drug paraphernalia in violation of Chapter 11 of Title 48;

(C) An act of prostitution as defined in [§ 22-2701.01(1)], or any act that violates any provision of [§§ 22-2701 through 22-2712 and 22-2718 through 22-2723]; or

(D) Conduct that violates [§ 48-911.01(a)]. In addition, the Mayor shall revoke any certificate of occupancy or permit associated with the specific address or unit, whichever is more specific, of the holder of a certificate of occupancy or permit who knowingly permits a violation of [§ 48-911.01(a)], to occur at the specific address or unit identified in the certificate of occupancy or permit.

(2) The Mayor, by rule, shall establish costs and fines to cover revocation of any license revoked pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(a-2)(1) In addition to the provisions of subsection (a-1) of this section and paragraph (1A) of this subsection, the Mayor, notwithstanding § 2-1801.04(a)(1)), may take the following actions against any licensee, or agent or employee of a licensee, that, with or without the appropriate license required under this chapter, engages in the purchase, sale, exchange, or any other form of commercial transaction involving used goods or merchandise that are knowingly stolen:

(A) The Mayor, for the first violation of this paragraph:

(i) Shall issue a fine in the amount of $2,500; and

(ii) May seal the licensee’s premises for up to 96 hours without a prior hearing.

(B) The Mayor, for the second violation of this paragraph:

(i) Shall issue a fine in the amount of $5,000;

(ii) May seal the licensee’s premises for up to 96 hours without a prior hearing; and

(iii)(I) Shall, within 30 days of the issuance of a fine, require the licensee to submit a remediation plan approved by the Mayor, in consultation with the Chief of Police, that contains the licensee’s plan to prevent any future recurrence of purchasing, selling, exchanging, or otherwise transacting stolen goods and acknowledgement that a subsequent occurrence of engaging in prohibited activities may result in the revocation of all licenses issued to the licensee pursuant to this chapter.

(II) If the licensee fails to submit a remediation plan in accordance with this sub-subparagraph, or if the Mayor rejects the licensee’s remediation plan, the Mayor shall provide written notice to the licensee of the Mayor’s intent to suspend all licenses issued to the licensee pursuant to this chapter for an additional 30 days.

(C) The Mayor, for the third violation of this paragraph:

(i) Shall issue a fine in the amount of $10,000;

(ii) May seal the licensee’s premises for up to 96 hours without a prior hearing; and

(iii) Shall provide written notice to the licensee of the Mayor’s intent to permanently revoke all licenses issued to the licensee pursuant to this chapter.

(1A) In addition to the provisions of subsection (a-1) of this section and paragraph (1) of this subsection, the Mayor or the Chief of Police, notwithstanding [§ 2-1801.04(a)(1)], may take the following actions against, or impose the following requirements upon, any licensee, or agent or employee of a licensee, that knowingly engages or attempts to engage in the purchase, sale, exchange, or any other form of commercial transaction involving a synthetic drug, including the possession of multiple units of a synthetic drug:

(A) For the first violation of this paragraph:

(i) The Mayor shall issue a fine in the amount of $10,000;

(ii) The Mayor may issue a notice to revoke all licenses issued to the licensee pursuant to this chapter; and

(iii)(I) The Chief of Police, after a determination by the Mayor in accordance with [§ 2-1801.06(a)], shall seal the licensee's premises, or a portion of the premises, for up to 96 hours without a prior hearing;

(II) Within 14 days after a licensee's premises is sealed under sub-sub-subparagraph (I) of this sub-subparagraph, the Mayor shall require the licensee to submit a remediation plan to the Director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs that contains the licensee's plan to prevent any future recurrence of purchasing, selling, exchanging, or otherwise transacting any synthetic drug and acknowledgement that a subsequent occurrence of engaging in prohibited activities may result in the revocation of all licenses issued to the licensee pursuant to this chapter.

(III) If the licensee fails to submit a remediation plan in accordance with this sub-subparagraph, or if the Mayor, in consultation with the Chief of Police, rejects the licensee's remediation plan, the Mayor shall provide written notice to the licensee of the defects in any rejected remediation plan and the Mayor's intent to revoke all licenses issued to the licensee pursuant to this chapter.

(IV) If the licensee cures the defects in a rejected remediation plan, the Mayor may suspend any action to revoke any license of the licensee issued pursuant to this chapter.

(V) The Mayor shall notify the Office of the Attorney General upon sealing a licensee's premises, or a portion of the premises.

(B) For any subsequent violation of this paragraph:

(i) The Mayor shall issue a fine in the amount of $20,000; and

(ii) The Chief of Police, after a determination by the Mayor in accordance with [§ 2-1801.06(a)], shall seal the licensee's premises, or a portion of the premises, for up to 30 days without a prior hearing.

(C) If a licensee's premises, or a portion of the premises, is sealed under subparagraph (A) or (B) of this paragraph, a licensee shall have the right to request a hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings within 3 business days after service of notice of the sealing of the premises under subparagraph (E) of this paragraph.

(D) If a licensee timely requests a hearing under subparagraph (C) of this paragraph, the Office of Administrative Hearings shall hold a hearing before an administrative law judge within 3 business days after receiving the request.

(E) At the time of the sealing of the premises, or a portion of the premises, under subparagraph (A) or (B) of this paragraph, the Director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs shall post at the premises and serve on the licensee a written notice and order stating:

(i) The specific action or actions being taken;

(ii) The factual and legal bases for the action or actions;

(iii) The right, within 3 business days after service of notice of the sealing of the premises, to request a hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings;

(iv) The right to a hearing before an administrative law judge, within 3 business days after a timely request being received by the Office of Administrative Hearings; and

(v) That it shall be unlawful for any person, with the exception of emergency services personnel, to enter the sealed premises for any purpose without written permission by the Director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

(F) A licensee shall pay a fine issued pursuant to subparagraph (A) or (B) of this paragraph within 20 days after adjudication by the Office of Administrative Hearings. If the licensee fails to pay the fine within the specified time period, the Mayor may seal the premises until the fine is paid.

(G) For the purposes of this paragraph, the term:

(i) "Business days" means days in which the Office of Administrative Hearings is open for business.

(ii) "Synthetic drug" means any product possessed, provided, distributed, sold, or marketed with the intent that it be used as a recreational drug, such that its consumption or ingestion produces effects on the central nervous system or brain function to change perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behavior in ways that are similar to the effects of marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, or Schedule I narcotics under § 48-902.04. The term "synthetic drug" also includes any chemically synthesized product (including products that contain both a chemically synthesized ingredient and herbal or plant material) possessed, provided, distributed, sold, or marketed with the intent that the product produce effects substantially similar to the effects created by compounds banned by District or federal synthetic drug laws or by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration pursuant to its authority under the Controlled Substances Act, approved October 27, 1970 (84 Stat. 1247; 21 U.S.C. § 812). Any of the following factors shall be treated as indicia that a product is being marketed with the intent that it be used as a recreational drug:

(I) The product is not suitable for its marketed use (such as a crystalline or powder product being marketed as "glass cleaner");

(II) The individual or business providing, distributing, displaying, or selling the product does not typically provide, distribute, display, or sell products that are used for that product's marketed use (such as liquor stores, smoke shops, or gas or convenience stores selling "plant food");

(III) The product contains a warning label that is not typically present on products that are used for that product's marketed use including, "Not for human consumption", "Not for purchase by minors", "Must be 18 years or older to purchase", "100% legal blend", or similar statements;

(IV) The product is significantly more expensive than other products that are used for that product's marketed use;

(V) The product resembles an illicit street drug (such as cocaine, methamphetamine, or Schedule I narcotic) or marijuana; or

(VI) The licensee or any employee of the licensee has been warned by a District government agency or has received a criminal incident report, arrest report, or equivalent from any law enforcement agency that the product or a similarly labeled product contains a synthetic drug.

(2)(A) A violation of this subsection shall be a civil infraction for purposes of Chapter 18 of Title 2. Civil fines, penalties, and fees may be imposed as sanctions for any infraction of the provisions of this subsection, or the rules issued under authority of this subsection, pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2.

(B) Adjudication of any infraction of this subsection shall be pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2.

(C) Summary action taken pursuant to this subsection shall be pursuant to subchapter 1 of Chapter 18 of Title 2.

(3) In addition to other remedies provided by law, the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia may commence an action in the Civil Branch of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to compel compliance, abate, enjoin, or prevent violations of this subsection. Plaintiff need not prove irreparable injury or harm to obtain a preliminary or temporary injunction.

(a-3)(1) The term “knowingly” includes:

(A) For the purposes of subsections (a-1) and (a-2) of this section, actual notice of a specific violation set forth in subsection (a-1) or (a-2) of this section to the licensee, or agent or employee of the licensee, issued by a District agency notifying the licensee, or agent or employee of the licensee, of the same or similar violation occurring on the licensee’s premises; or

(B) For the purposes of subsection (a-2) of this section, constructive notice to the licensee, or agent or employee of the licensee, resulting from the failure of the licensee, or agent or employee of the licensee, to ascertain the ownership of the used goods or merchandise.

(2) For the purposes of this subsection, actual or constructive notice to the agent or employee of the licensee constitutes notice to the licensee.

(b) Notwithstanding any of the provisions of this chapter requiring an inspection as a prerequisite to the issuance of a license, the Mayor is authorized to provide by regulation that any such inspection shall be made either prior or subsequent to the issuance of a license, but any such license, whether issued prior or subsequent to a required inspection, may be suspended or revoked for failure of the licensee to comply with the laws or regulations applicable to the licensed business, trade, profession, or calling.

(c)(1) The Council may in its discretion require that any class or subclass of licensees licensed under the authority of this chapter to engage in a business, trade, profession or calling involving an express or implied agreement to collect money for others shall give bond to safeguard against financial loss those persons with whom such class or subclass of licensees may so agree.

(2) The bond which may be required by the Council under the authority of this subsection shall be a corporate surety bond in an amount to be fixed by the Council, but not to exceed $15,000, conditioned upon the observance by the licensee and any agent or employee of said licensee of all laws and regulations in force in the District of Columbia applicable to the licensee’s conduct of the business, trade, profession, or calling licensed under the authority of this chapter, for the benefit of any person who may suffer damages resulting from the violation of any such law or regulation by or on the part of such licensee, his agent, or employee.

(3) Any person aggrieved by the violation of any law or regulation applicable to a licensee’s conduct of a business, trade, profession, or calling involving the collection of money for others shall have, in addition to his right of action against such licensee, a right to bring suit against the surety on the bond authorized by this subsection, either alone or jointly with the principal thereon, and to recover in an amount not exceeding the penalty of the bond any damages sustained by reason of any act, transaction, or conduct of the licensee and any agent or employee of said licensee which is in violation of law or regulation in force in the District of Columbia relating to the business, trade, profession, or calling licensed under this chapter; and the provisions of the 2nd, 3rd (except the last sentence thereof), and 5th paragraphs of subsection (b) of § 1-301.01 shall be applicable to such bond as if it were the bond authorized by the first paragraph of such subsection (b) of § 1-301.01; provided, that nothing in this subsection shall be construed to impose upon the surety on any such bond a greater liability than the total amount thereof or the amount remaining unextinguished after any prior recovery or recoveries.

(4) This subsection shall not be applicable to persons when engaged in the regular course of any of the following professions or businesses:

(A) Attorneys-at-law;

(B) Persons regularly employed on a regular wage or salary, in the capacity of creditment or in a similar capacity, except as an independent contractor;

(C) Banks and financing and lending institutions;

(D) Common carriers;

(E) Title insurers and abstract companies while doing an escrow business;

(F) Licensed real estate brokers; or

(G) Employees of any class or subclass of licensees required to give bond under this subsection.


(July 1, 1902, 32 Stat. 628, ch. 1352, § 7, par. 46; July 1, 1932, 47 Stat. 563, ch. 366; July 3, 1956, 70 Stat. 491, ch. 511, § 2; Sept. 1, 1959, 73 Stat. 447, Pub. L. 86-217, § 1; Apr. 22, 1960, 74 Stat. 72, Pub. L. 86-431, § 4; Apr. 30, 1988, D.C. Law 7-104, § 43(e), 35 DCR 147; Mar. 8, 1991, D.C. Law 8-231, § 2, 38 DCR 257; enacted, Apr. 9, 1997, D.C. Law 11-254, § 2, 44 DCR 1575; Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-81, § 5(b), 53 DCR 1050; Dec. 13, 2013, D.C. Law 20-50, § 2(b), 60 DCR 15151; July 1, 2016, D.C. Law 21-138, § 3, 63 DCR 7587; Feb. 18, 2017, D.C. Law 21-215, § 2, 63 DCR 15708.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 47-2844.

1973 Ed., § 47-2345.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-81, in subpar. (a-1)(1)(A), substituted “;” for “; or”; in subpar. (a-1)(1)(B) substituted “; or” for “.”; and added new subpar. (a-1)(1)(C).

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-50 substituted “The Council of the District of Columbia and Mayor are” for “The Council of the District of Columbia is” in (a); added (a-2) and (a-3); and substituted “the Mayor” for “the Council” in (b).

Cross References

Administrative procedure, generally, see § 2-501 et seq.

Mayor, Council and other offices, application of certain sections to boards, commissions and committees, see § 1-321.02.

Public utilities, penal provisions, prosecution, see § 34-731.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Sale of Synthetic Drugs Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-473, July 21, 2016, 63 DCR 10172).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Sale of Synthetic Drugs Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-400, May 19, 2016, 63 DCR 7916).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Clarification Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-364, Apr. 27, 2016, 63 DCR 6834).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of the Personal Property Robbery Prevention Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-142, July 31, 2013, 60 DCR 11796, 20 DCSTAT 1987).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of the Personal Property Robbery Prevention Second Emergency Amendment Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-199, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15330).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-19, Mar. 26, 2015, 62 DCR 3857, 21 DCSTAT 852).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of the Sale of Synthetic Drugs Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-100, July 10, 2015, 62 DCR 9689).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of the Sale of Synthetic Drugs Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-157, Oct. 16, 2015, 62 DCR 13710).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Clarification EmergencyAmendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-273, Jan. 14, 2016, 63 DCR 801).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Sale of Synthetic Drugs Temporary Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Law 21-149, Aug. 20, 2016, 63 DCR 9314).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Clarification Temporary Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Law 21-11, June 4, 2015, 62 DCR 4717).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of the Sale of Synthetic Drugs Temporary Amendment Act of 2015 (D.C. Law 21-34, Oct. 21, 2015, 62 DCR 10898).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of section, see § 3 of the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Clarification Temporary Amendment Act of 2016 D.C. Law 21-98, April 6, 2016, 63 DCR 2211, 20 DCSTAT 3135).