Marijuana Giveaways Raise Interesting Questions

By MSN moneyNOW  FEB 19, 2013 12:26 PM

A new Colorado law OKs recreational use of pot, but selling it remains illegal. However, a loophole is prompting some questionable business practices.

 


Here's one way to increase foot traffic at your out-of-the-way store: offer a free gift of marijuana with every purchase of $30 or more.

That's the approach one Colorado “head shop” is taking. The Denver Post reports the shop recently put an ad on Craigslist in an effort to attract more customers to its relatively remote site near the city's Sports Authority Field at Mile High (insert your joke here).

"The marijuana is not for sale," the store's owner told the Post. "You're actually purchasing smoking accessories, tobacco, T-shirts, fine art. As a gift for them patronizing our store, we're giving them 2 grams of marijuana for free.... It's just an incentive."

The offer, and others like it, are also coming under scrutiny from both sides of the cannabis issue in Colorado. And it could have an impact on the future of marijuana sales elsewhere in the US.

Voters in the state passed Amendment 64 last November, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana by adults. You can also legally "gift" a certain amount of marijuana to someone else. But it's still illegal in Colorado to buy or sell cannabis for recreational purposes -- at least until next year, when communities can decide to allow or ban local retail pot shops. 

Medical marijuana is already legal and a big business in Colorado, and this acceptance, along with the apparent legal loophole in Amendment 64 has, for the moment, encouraged others in the cannabis industry to try their luck with "free" pot.

A Colorado Springs delivery service recently came under law enforcement scrutiny for offering door-to-door marijuana deliveries in exchange for "suggested donation[s] towards researching [marijuana] and improving our cultivation operation,” according to the city's Independent newspaper,

Some cannabis-oriented clubs also offer free marijuana -- after you pay an admission fee.

Supporters of Amendment 64 say there's some legal backing for the concept of trading marijuana without "remuneration" for a service, donation or item.

But marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and local law enforcement officials in Colorado are wise to the game as well.

"If I show up at your house with less than an ounce of marijuana, I'm 21, you're 21, and I say, 'Hey dude, it cost me 50 bucks in gas to get over here,' and you give me 50 bucks for my gas, there's nothing illegal," Lt. Mark Comte with Colorado Springs Police told the Independent. 

"I mean, you and I both know what's going on with it,” he said, “but they know what the loopholes are right now."
 
Editor's Note: This story by Bruce Kennedy was originally published on MSN moneyNOW.

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