When Washington, DC residents voted to legalize marijuana back in 2015, many stoners (while high, of course) probably imagined President Obama blowing O’s in the White House rose garden after a tough day at the office; however, due to the District’s lack of statehood, and the tempestuous relationship that exists between DC and Congress—even the President might have a hard time understanding the Chocolate City’s stance on the green.
As the nation’s capital, the District of Columbia is not allowed to govern itself in the same manner that states are. Where states enjoy relative sovereignty and are endowed with the freedom to enact any laws that they see fit (as long as they do not violate the constitution of the United States)—the constitution gives the United States Congress sole jurisdiction over DC in “all cases whatsoever.”
Though Congress has typically allowed DC to exercise some home rule, they still reserve the right to oversee and overturn any and all local laws; worse yet, Congress maintains the authority to completely abolish all local governments that exist in the District.
With such absolute power over Washington, DC, it was not surprising when Congress stepped in to impede DC residents from truly enjoying the legalization referendum that was voted on and adopted. Unlike states like Colorado and Oregon that have completely abolished marijuana prohibition, the citizens of DC are stuck with a hybrid system. While residents can possess and smoke marijuana, it remains illegal for them to sell and/or purchase the flower. This has lead to a rise in what has affectionately become known as the “gray market.”
The Gray Market
In an effort to skirt DC’s irrational laws, innovative cannabis enthusiasts have gotten creative with how they handle the unrivaled demand for mary jane. While some started cannabis clubs, others have decided to rely on the “generosity” of their customers—at least that’s the route that High Speed Delivery chose to travel.
Weed for Free?
High Speed Delivery is an Oakland-based juice delivery service that recently expanded into the DC market. For $11, the company will deliver fresh juice to your home in about 20 minutes. But if you cough up an additional $44, you can get a little love with your juice—in the form of an eighth of an ounce of weed. For a donation of $150, you can get “lots of love.”
While some have questioned whether or not High Speed Delivery is operating within the law, the company says, “...it is perfectly legal to possess up to 2 ounces of dry consumable cannabis. We sell niche foods and drinks, not cannabis. We give cannabis as a gift!”
As tempting as it may be for other entrepreneurs to gift marijuana to their customers, giving away weed in the District can potentially cost you your freedom, or at least your business.
Nicholas Cunningham, aka “Kush Gods”, also runs a delivery service that offered its customers a gift of weed when they made a “donation.”
Though Cunningham was able to avoid any jail time, the Judge ordered him to have his cars repainted (which were emblazoned with cannabis leaves), and forbade him from selling marijuana or marijuana infused products in the District, though the business continues to thrive today.
High Speed Delivery says that they have consulted with several lawyers in order to ensure that they are operating within the law, and fortunately they have not encountered the same legal roadblocks as the Kush Gods; but with Congress showing no signs of loosening the reigns on DC, residents and budding entrepreneurs appear to have a ways to go before they truly get what they voted for: the right to smoke, chill, and be merry—because while it remains legal, as Patrick Caldwell brilliantly stated, “...for the most part, DC’s marijuana market is still operating like every other black market in [the] country, just a little more out in the open when it comes to possession, though the drug is still sold with the risk of arrest.”