Gift exchange systems, over-priced T-shirts and coffee mugs, extravagant public gatherings with coded merchandise. This is the kind of shit you have to go through to legally “buy” or “sell” cannabis in the District of Columbia.
Though the city legalized weed back in 2015, they only legalized the possession of it, not the sale of it. That means that customers have to jump through overly complex loops, doing things like paying $45 for a regular black cotton T-shirt and getting a “gifted” “souvenir” of several grams of marijuana in the bargain, as reported by The Washington Post.
Other tactics the purveyors of legal cannabis have to go through include setting up marijuana events where cannabis consumers paid for items such as raffle tickets and then received complimentary dabs. Though hitting concentrates at these events is permitted, smoking cannabis flowers is not, due to another quirk of D.C. laws and customs.
What separates Washington from similar shenanigans in other quasi-legal territories is the gift economy. In many areas of California, for example, those with a medical cannabis recommendation can walk into a dispensary and exchange a “donation” of cash directly for a specific quantity of cannabis product.
Try that in D.C. and you could get arrested, as one businessmen, (Nicholas “Kush God” Cunningham) who ran a fleet of cars which exchanged cash directly for cannabis, did in 2015.
Why such a bad system?
The District’s weed problems have many roots, but one of the biggest and dumbest is an anesthesiologist-come-Freedom Caucus House Representative named Andy Harris (R-Maryland). Unlike any other municipality or state in the country, the laws of Washington, D.C. are subject to review by a congressional committee.
After the voter-approved cannabis legalization bill was passed, Rep. Harris introduced a rider to the bill which tied up the District’s government from spending any money or resources on a regulatory system for cannabis sales. As a result, the District’s cannabis market is, in a word, fucked.
Harris defended his decision, which contradicted the wishes of D.C.’s voters, on the basis that he doesn’t agree with them, which sounds pretty Democratic. “I think the District of Columbia made a bad decision,” Harris said in an interview. “I would hope the District comes to its senses and realizes the dangers.”
Photo via Flickr user Boston Public Library