2017 was always going to be a weird year for the states that legalized marijuana on Election Day in November. Cannabis is now legal for adults 21 and over in Massachusetts, California and Nevada—and on Jan. 30, Maine—but only if you can find any lying around.
Retail sales in licensed stores won’t start until 2018, and unlicensed sales of any kind are illegal then and now.
That means that the only way to actually legally acquire any cannabis for now is to grow some yourself, receive some for free or otherwise stumble upon some unattended reefer. That, or buy some off the street or from your “guy” (or girl) just like before.
One enterprising man in Massachusetts has stumbled upon another option—and one that might be even more relevant, now that state lawmakers have abandoned their early-2018 deadline to set up retail sales and pushed it back to at least the middle of next year.
This fellow is now in the sandwich bag business, offering up for sale on Craigslist “empty” plastic bags for as little as $20, all the way up to $325—with “dispensary-grade marijuana” inside as a “free gift.”
New England Public Radio brings us the tale of this budding bagman, who posted on the “farm and garden services” section of the western Massachusetts Craigslist. The ad, since removed, offered five different options of empty sandwich bags—with up to an ounce of “various strains” of cannabis included inside as a gift.
“Disclaimer: I am selling you an empty bag,” read the ad, also picked up by WBUR. “Marijuana placed In that empty sandwich bag is simply a legal gift.”
Apparently the news media has yet to encounter a good thing it won’t ruin, as the radio stations contacted local prosecutors to verify if the gift is legal. It’s not, as local prosecutors were happy to inform us.
Gifting cannabis is indeed legal in Massachusetts, but the gift can’t be “advertised or promoted to the public,” according to Massachusetts’ legalization initiative.
“The ads are illegal,” said Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan, in comments to WBUR.
“To say an empty baggie costs $350 is ridiculous,” added Sullivan, who told the radio station that he plans to ask police to investigate. “I think it’s a clear fraud on its face.”
Even the advocates behind the state’s legalization law are with the police on this one, on the basis that pot bought on Craigslist is likely not tested for pesticides or mold.
“You need to have somebody who is actually a licensed seller who checks IDs [and] who operates in a licensed facility sell the product,” said Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the Yes on 4 Coalition, in comments to WBUR.
An individual who responded to a text message sent to the phone number posted on the ad said that he and a “friend” do card to make sure any bag-buyers are 21 or over—and in the meantime, it’s a “foolish… waste” of taxpayer money to send cops after anyone selling bags, no matter how much “free” pot is inside.
Here’s a tip to lawmakers in Massachusetts: If you want to cut down on clever attempts on circumventing the law, why don’t you work on opening retail cannabis stores early rather than begging for delays before you begin? Regulated, licensed and taxpaying marijuana sales have only worked out just fine in, oh, everywhere else they’ve been legalized.
In the meantime, it’s back to buying weed the old-fashioned way—off Craigslist, bags not included.