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An Inside Look at the ‘Weed Gift’ Loophole in D.C.

An Inside Look at the 'Weed Gift' Loophole in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

In 2014, weed was legalized recreationally in Washington, D.C., but retail sales are not yet allowed. In the meantime, DC cannabis consumers have turned to a loophole in the law to get their weed arrest-free. Many dealers are taking advantage of the weed gift loophole to make as much money as possible before retail shops open up.

The Weed Gift Loophole

Unlike other places that legalized recreational marijuana, the District of Columbia decided to make the buying and selling of the substance illegal. That’s when the unique Washington, D.C. trading system was born. Many dealers are now legally operating out of storefronts or on websites, like Craigslist, because of the weed gift loophole.

Right now people in DC are allowed to possess weed, but they have no place to legally acquire it. Fortunately, they got creative and made their own “gifting” system.

The only way to transfer weed from one person’s possession to another is by gifting it. It must be made clear with every transaction to avoid any legal repercussions. They usually have some other overpriced item that they’re “selling” and the weed is just an unrelated gift as far as the police are concerned.

You can’t take “donations” for weed.

Nicholas “Kush God” Cunningham had to learn that lesson the hard way late in 2015. He had vehicles covered in pot leaf decals that he would hand out edibles in exchange for cash donations. If you like your freedom, you’re going to need to be a lot more discreet than that.

Lt. Andrew Struhar of the Narcotics and Special Operations division of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department told Business Insider, “In our estimation, that’s still illegal.”

He also admits that cops are no longer on the hunt for weed, but if you’re flaunting it, they’ll be forced to take action.

For now, weed in DC remains in the grey area.

“I don’t think it’s sustainable,” said city council chairman Phil Mendelson. “We have legal marijuana, but we can’t regulate it. It’s stupid, it’s just stupid.”

How Did This Happen?

So why aren’t retail sales going on in Washington, D.C.?

It’s because it isn’t a state. As a result, the District has a strained relationship with the federal government. All District laws can be vetoed or altered by a congressional committee. In fact, the District has been denied the right to legally sell retail pot.

After the initiative passed, Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican from nearby Maryland, made a change that prevents the District’s government from spending any money on developing a regulatory or taxation system for marijuana sales. He said, “the District of Columbia made a bad decision. I would hope the District comes to its senses and realizes the dangers.” If the district had the rights of a state, the legal retail system would be established.

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