The Tea Costs $60, But The Weed is Free: Cannabis Capitalists Exploit Loopholes By ‘Gifting’ The Drug

Article by Philip Marcelo, Associated Press via Chicago Tribune

The tea costs $60, but the weed is free: Cannabis capitalists exploit loopholes by 'gifting' the drug.  A bottle of tea and marijuana from HighSpeed juice delivery service are displayed together, in Walpole, Mass. A provision in state marijuana laws allows people to exchange up to an ounce of marijuana, so long as it's given away without any money exchanged. (Steven Senne / AP) Philip Marcelo Associated Press

The single bottle of juice delivered to your door will set you back at least $55. But the bag of marijuana that comes with it? On the house.

Retail marijuana stores are months away from opening in Massachusetts, but some companies have been quietly operating for more than a year, selling and delivering marijuana via a legal loophole.

Companies like HighSpeed, which describes itself as a juice delivery service, are exploiting so-called “gifting” provisions that are on the books in Massachusetts and most other states where marijuana has been legalized.

They generally allow the exchange of small amounts of the drug so long as it’s given away — “gifted” — from one adult to another. In other words, passing a joint at a party or dropping a bud in your brother’s Christmas stocking won’t result in fines or jail time.

But some entrepreneurs see the provisions as an opportunity to get ahead of the regulated market, planting an early stake in what could become a crowded and lucrative industry.

Gifting also allows cannabis capitalists to undercut licensed shops because they don’t face the same oversight or pay marijuana sales taxes. And underground sellers could complicate things in places like Vermont, Maine and Washington, D.C., which have legalized pot but have no firm plans to open regulated retailers.

“Under any fair reading of the law, these businesses are illegal,” said Roger Katz, a Republican state senator in Maine who is studying the issue. “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck.”

At least four enterprises have done gifting business in Massachusetts since marijuana was legalized in December 2016, two of them in the Boston area, The Associated Press found in an investigation that included records gathered from law enforcement agencies around the state.

Read the full article here.

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