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DC’s Pot Laws Create Quasi-Legal Street Industry

Rainy Street View of Washington D.C.
Photo by Mr.TinDC


DC’s Pot Laws Create Quasi-Legal Street Industry

Although Congress passed a measure in 2014, preventing the District of Columbia from enacting any legislation that lends itself to establishing a retail cannabis trade, there still appears to be a bizarre, legal industry developing on the streets of the nation’s capital.

According to a recent article from The DCist, an organization called Kush Gods has developed a clever business model that has assisted them in bypassing the bureaucratic red tape that prevents entrepreneurs in the District from capitalizing on legal cannabis. Instead of selling cannabis-infused edibles, which would be highly illegal, Kush Gods has set up a street deal system that allows customers to get their hands on their products for a donation in the amount of their choosing.

When District voters passed Initiative 71 last year, legalizing recreational marijuana, it enabled a unique scheme in which residents are allowed to have cannabis in their possession, cultivate a number of plants at home and give pot away to family, friends and even complete strangers. But, a retail market is not permitted.

Although the DC Council is champing at the bit to get a law passed that would allow the city to reap the benefit of a taxed and regulated cannabis industry, a rider attached to a federal spending bill has prevented the District from spending any funds to mimic what is currently underway in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon.

However, when Initiative 71 took effect in February of this year, there was a lot of talk about how the cannabis community was going to rise up against the actions of Congress by developing cannabis clubs and other venues where residents could simply pay a membership fee or provide a donation in order to get their hands on some premium smoke. This caused Mayor Muriel Bowser to submit a measure to the DC Council in March to stop businesses from setting their own pot policies to allow for the private consumption of marijuana on their premises. The bill was approved and the concept of member paid cannabis clubs officially died.

What the District apparently failed to do, however, is prevent donation-based deals from becoming a thing. Kush Gods, admittedly, the first and only pseudo cannabusiness in DC, has been taking their operations to the streets for awhile now, providing cannabis-infused brownies to potentially hundreds of business people, federal employees and tourists looking to catch a buzz. The report from the DCist indicates that this “business” has several employees, all making $13 per hour, who get paid to simply stand in the street saying, “edibles, edibles,” when pedestrians walk by.

The idea of weed being sold throughout the city has reportedly created some controversy, though. Some places have called the police on Kush Gods in order to prevent them from conducting business in their area. But what’s interesting is “law enforcement hasn’t been a problem,” according to Kush God, and their operations have been allowed to continue.

As long as the DC Council is being prevented from establishing a full legal market, theses types of donation-based street deals are likely to continue. Unfortunately, the problem here is that without some level of control on edibles, the consumer has no way of knowing if what they are getting is a quality product for a $10 donation or something substandard. There are also food safety issues to be considered, among numerous other concerns.

Nevertheless, it appears the DC Council’s hands are tied for at least another year in regards to launching a regulated market. Congress recently renewed the rider initiated in 2014 by Maryland Representative Andy Harris that prevents the District from moving forward with any plans to sell weed in the backyard of the White House.

“Congress has failed us,” said DC Councilmember Davis Grosso. “They continue to block this effort. The people of the District of Columbia deserve this kind of a marketplace, and we don’t have the opportunity to do that.”

Meanwhile, Kush Gods is preparing to launch an app that will allow customers in D.C. to purchase edibles by submitting “donations” through their Smartphone.

What should D.C. residents do about the ban on cannabis dispensaries? Tell us in the comments.

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