Another state with legal weed is cracking down on unregulated cannabis retailers. This time, it’s Connecticut lawmakers who are embracing the practice of “gifting,” through which illicit weed shops sell a product (say, a T-shirt) that comes with a “gift” of cannabis .
Now, under a bill signed last week by the state’s Democratic governor, Ned Lamont, that gap could be narrowed.
According to the Connecticut Post, cities in the state “can now fine residents up to $1,000 for giving away a cannabis plant or other cannabis-related product to another person in exchange for any type of donation, including an entry fee, or as part of any gift such as a tote bag.” while the state itself may “also separately issue fines of $1,000 for failure to pay sales taxes.”
“Giving away” has become a common practice for marijuana retailers who have not gone through the proper regulatory channels to obtain a license, or who operate in states where cannabis is legal for adults but the regulated market is not yet established. has launched
The Associated Press reported that “unregulated cannabis bazaars have sprung up [in Connecticut] since the drug was legalized last year” and “[t]Thousands of people have attended the events, often paying a fee to be admitted, and exchanged cannabis-related products for other items or received them along with the purchase of an item such as a T-shirt.”
In New York, where adult cannabis has been legal since March last year, regulators have targeted businesses allegedly involved in “giveaways,” warning them that the legal retail market is not officially starting until the end of the year.
New York’s Office of Cannabis Management sent cease-and-desist letters in March to several companies it suspected of employing the practice, saying that continuing to do so could jeopardize their prospects for retail licenses.
“New York State is building a legal and regulated cannabis market that will ensure products are proven and safe for consumers while providing opportunities for those in communities most affected by the over-criminalization of cannabis prohibition and illegal operations undermine our ability to do so. We encourage New Yorkers not to engage in illicit sales where products are unsafe, and we will continue to work to ensure that New Yorkers have a path to sell legally in the new industry.” OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander said in a statement at the time.
And in Washington, DC, where voters approved a ballot measure legalizing recreational pot in 2014, medical cannabis providers have opposed the practice of “gifting,” arguing that illicit businesses are harming its own legal operations.
Despite the legal status of cannabis in the nation’s capital, weed sales remain illegal due to Congress’ ban on the sale of pot there.
The bill designed to crack down on gifts in Connecticut was proposed earlier this year.
While the measure had support among some cannabis business owners in the state, other weed advocates opposed it. Employers who engage in gifting have also defended the practice.
“I don’t deserve to be punished for this, and neither does anyone else,” Justin Welch, a member of CT CannaWarriors and the New England Craft Cannabis Alliance, said in defense of the practice at the time of the bill’s introduction. “For too long, good people have been persecuted for their involvement with cannabis. The grassroots cannabis community that exists here in Connecticut will not cease to exist, whether you pass this law or not. Moving forward, we need a sensible cannabis policy that is more like a craft beer policy.”