Businesses in the forward-thinking town of Burlington, Vermont, have been exploiting a loophole in the state’s recreational marijuana law by “gifting” pot with by charging just a delivery fee, but the state’s attorney general said Monday that practice is still illegal.
A law that took effect July 1 allows adults to have up to an ounce of marijuana, but sales are not legal.
The advisory released by T.J. Donovan’s office said the prohibition on sales extends to any instance where a business gifts marijuana with the purchase of another item or service.
The clarification came after groups opposed to the sale of marijuana highlighted the businesses using the law’s loophole.
Weedy’s Warehouse, a courier service that advertises it will deliver whatever you want, previously advertised delivery fees ranging from $40 for an eighth of marijuana to $280 for a full ounce. Weedy’s Warehouse did not return requests for comment Monday, but posted on their Facebook page: “We are not willing to jeopardize your freedom or put you at risk to go to jail.”
Attorney Tim Fair represents Rolling Flower, another company that gifts marijuana. Fair said he is now advising clients to wait a few months to see if the Legislature passes any new laws.
Donovan said the decision whether to prosecute those gifting marijuana ultimately lies with the State’s Attorneys, but in his opinion it is more important to help people understand the parameters of the new law.
“In giving people the opportunity to comply with the law it’s important to raise awareness and educate people about what the law is,” said Donovan.
Physicians, Families & Friends for a Better Vermont, an organization that opposes the sale of marijuana, urged criminal prosecution of those gifting marijuana last week.
“All the supporters of this law said, ‘No, this is not about sales, this is just about personal use and cultivation,’” Page said. “After July 1, immediately it was exploited for aggressive commercial sales.”
Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, said Colorado, Oregon and Maine have all cracked down on gifting sales because the quid pro quo is only disguised. He said the transfer of pot from one person to another should still be allowed.
“If marijuana is a legal product for adults, it should not be a crime for someone to hand a joint to another adult or to give them some because they’re friends,” said Tvert.
Fair said that while Donovan’s advisory outlines one part of the law, Vermont may still see businesses eager to test the boundaries.
“Entrepreneurial ingenuity is not going to stop,” said Fair. “We’re going to be coming up against this problem again and again and again until the legislature does the right thing and pass a reasonable tax and regulate bill.”