There’s a big difference between legalizing recreational marijuana and it being available to purchase on the open, legal market. When states legalize marijuana, they still have to implement a regulatory framework for the new market, which can take years. Marijuana is now legal for recreational use in Michigan, but there isn’t anywhere for adult users to legally purchase it. And the regulatory affairs that would make marijuana available for purchase on the legal market in that state might not be put into place until 2020, if not later.
Consumers without a medical marijuana card now have two options: continue frequenting the black market, including their friendly neighborhood pot dealer, or frequent businesses that give away marijuana as ‘gifts.’
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It’s a loophole in the law that has been exploited by marijuana businesses in the District of Columbia, where a similar situation has existed for the last few years. There, cannabis was legalized without including a way for consumers to buy it. So, cannabis operations ‘gift’ the cannabis to consumers, who technically purchase food or other non-cannabis merchandise.
One Boston-based online marijuana business, On High Road, is expanding into the Detroit, Michigan market with just that business model. They sell bags of snacks and baked goods called “munchie bags,” priced between $55 and $120, and gift a complimentary supply of cannabis with every order.
“There is a gifting clause within the law, so we give the cannabis to customers,” owner Brandon Anthony told the Detroit Free Press. “Under the laws in Michigan, you can gift up to 2.5 ounces.”
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A chocolate shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan called Smoke’s Chocolate is even more open about its ‘gifting’ business model. Their slogan is “Buy some chocolate, get some weed.” “It’s been absolutely insane,” owner Marc Bernard said. “We went viral, and we have not been able to keep up with demand.”
“Michigan has been on our radar since last year,” Anthony said. “With all the legal and licensing fees, we couldn’t afford (applying for a license), so we figured out a legal loophole. And I have an attorney that tells me all the legal loopholes are covered.”