Little Green Gifts: Legalization of Marijuana in Washington D.C.

How much would you pay for a bottle of juice? A printed shirt? A work by an upcoming artist? But – wait for it – how much would you pay for them if they came with a little ‘gift’?

It started with a need…

The legalization of marijuana in Washington D.C. was in effect back in 2009 but this was limited to medical marijuana. This means patients with a prescription must pick up their cannabis in person at an official dispensary.

…but weed gained speed.

Just four years after the establishment of the medical marijuana network, voters in D.C. legalized marijuana for recreational use. It was in November 2014 when Initiative 71 (I-71), known as the Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Initiative, was finally passed; allowing adults, 21 years old and over, to enjoy pot.

Little Green Gifts Legalization of Marijuana in Washington D.C.

However, the turn out wasn’t what voters were expecting. Along with the legalization of marijuana, came the restrictions. And the laws in the initiative may send some to a high, pardon the pun.

While it’s true that legal aged adults may use weed, they are only permitted to carry within their person up to two ounces at a time. Smoking weed is also prohibited in public areas or federal grounds. But you can grow up to 6 plants in your own backyard, provided only 3 or fewer are mature.

The cruel irony of I-71 is that you can have marijuana but you cannot buy or sell it. You can give someone up to an ounce of weed as a gift, provided they are also of legal age. Anyone else feel dizzy yet?

But nothing motivates people like income. “Cannapreneurs” as they have been called, have discovered the loophole in I-71. They may not be able to sell marijuana, but they can sure sell everything else. Technically, it’s not illegal to sell overpriced merchandise if customers are willing to pay for it. And with that little extra on the side, many find the purchase worth it.

It is advised to stay discrete, however, as weed is still illegal under federal law. A classic example is Nicholas “Kushgod” Cunningham (also known “Nycholas Kush God”) who was shut down by authorities. He operated an art gallery that gave weed to patrons and a food truck-like business. He operated a “donation-based service” and people can follow the Kush God’s social media accounts to know where the trucks will be. They can choose from the menu of brownies, cookies, etc. His trucks were also decorated with images of marijuana. Obviously, a not so subtle way of spreading ‘gifts’.

According to the narcotics division of D.C. police’s Lt. Andrew Struhar, people should at least try to pass the laugh test. If a juice is worth $50, will you laugh?

The legalization of marijuana in Washington D.C. does put citizens in the gray area of the law mainly because there are still authorities convinced that it is a gateway to substance abuse. And they may be correct. After all, the word “gift” in German means poison.

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