My friend Mr. Smith went to Washington, D.C. in the spring of 2018 to participate in a protest. Mr. Smith wanted to purchase some marijuana. In the state where Mr. Smith lives, he’s allowed to purchase medical marijuana from highly regulated marijuana dispensaries.
Mr. Smith knew legally purchasing marijuana in Washington, D.C. would not be easy. He’d have to play the loophole game. Because, you see, local law says marijuana cannot be sold, but up to one ounce can be “transferred” from individuals age twenty-one or older so long as there is no exchange of money, goods, or services. This is why there are no marijuana marts on the streets of D.C., as there are in cities like Denver.
When voters in D.C. resoundingly approved Initiative 71 in November 2014, legalizing possession of up to two ounces of marijuana within the district, some conservatives in Congress got all hissy about it. Chief among them was U.S. Representative Andy Harris, Republican of Maryland. He pushed through a rider that forbids the D.C. city council to “enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance,” including marijuana.
So now the district government can’t sell or tax recreational marijuana either.
But Mr. Smith was aware of the enterprising entrepreneurs in D.C. who, in response to this rule, set up delivery services that “transfer” cannabis and cannabis-related “gifts.” These services have names like Canamelo and Puff Puff DC.
Mr. Smith sent an inquiry to one of these delivery services via text message. He received back a “gift menu” listing the various products available along with suggested “donation” amounts for each. Examples: Forman Farms Blunts ($45 donation), edible Fruity Pebble Treat ($10 donation). For pictures of these products, the text referred Mr. Smith to an Instagram account.
The various products available included Forman Farms Blunts ($45 donation) and edible Fruity Pebble Treat ($10 donation).
Mr. Smith texted back his order, along with the address of the D.C. hotel where he would be staying. The next day, as Mr. Smith was waiting for the yellow line train to take him from Reagan National Airport into D.C., a text message arrived. It said a delivery man would meet him outside his hotel tomorrow at 11 a.m. He would be driving a red car. The delivery man’s name sounded like an alias. I will give his alias an alias and call him “Spider.”
Sure enough, a red car pulled up in front of the hotel the next day at 11 a.m. Mr. Smith got in. Spider was a man of average height and weight. He was a thoroughly non-threatening sort. “This is for you,” Mr. Smith said, placing his “donation” in the glove box. “That’s for you,” said Spider, motioning with a nod of his head to the brown paper bag on the seat between them. Mr. Smith grabbed the bag and was on his way.
Mr. Smith was content. But it still remains illegal to consume marijuana anywhere in D.C., except in a private home. So exactly where Mr. Smith partook of his gift I don’t know. That’s none of my business.