Massachusetts voters passed a ballot measure legalizing adult recreational marijuana use in late 2016, but, like California, regulations for the distribution and sale of weed haven’t been finalized and selling it is still very much illegal.
Giving your stash away, though, became legal as soon as recreational use did, and some entrepreneurial Mass residents are taking full advantage of the loophole, creating makeshift cannabis clubs where a bag of bud is one VIP cover charge away.
According to the Valley Advocate, one such club in Springfield, MA is equipped with dark windows, a bouncer and a small sign that simply says “herb.” The club admits a few patrons at a time, and gives patrons a choice of a regular admission or VIP “club package.” The standard will cost you $20 to get in the door, and you will leave with either a gram of bud or an infused chocolate bar. The VIP package will get you the same experience, but with a three gram gift.
The club is very clear that they are not selling marijuana, but a club experience with a parting gift - a goody bag of sorts.
“For anyone who hasn’t been here before,” A man working at one of these clubs told a reporter from the Valley Advocate. “I want you to know that we don’t sell weed. If you leave here with nothing else, leave with knowing we do not sell weed. But …”
That “but” is a heavy caveat, especially since there is no music, dance floor, or place to sit at the so-called club. The club offers six strains of bud, and sells little else, but still, the gifting strategy has - at least so far - shaded them from legal repercussions.
“These types of businesses are popping up all around…This is not an abnormal thing,” Marvin Cole, a Massachusetts lawyer specializing in marijuana law told the Valley Advocate. “For the ones that are doing it, it’s unclear what’s legal or illegal.”
So far no one has reported any legal action being taken against these pot clubs, despite language in the legislation that specifically outlaws gifting weed as part of a promotion that is advertised to the public. These clubs though, are not advertised, and have since gone unchallenged.
“The law is clear,” Dick Evans, another Massachusetts lawyer specializing in cannabis law, told the Advocate. “that the delivery of marijuana can’t be part of a promotional thing. In Chapter 7 of the new law, section A4, it says you can’t be punished for giving away or giving remuneration under an ounce of marijuana as long as the transfer is not advertised to the public.”
So for now, Massachusetts dealers are taking full advantage of the gifting loophole, stacking money hand over fist and making it easier for adults to get their legal weed. It will be interesting to see if these grey market entrepreneurs can continue to skate under the radar of the law, and whether or not they will be able to transition into legal businesses once regulations are finally in place for legal recreational sale