Donation Dilemmas

When cannabis is illegal, reasonable people turn to Craigslist and shady disclaimers

Last week, the Largest Newspaper in the State of Arizona did a story about medical marijuana scofflaws who skirt the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and sell cannabis on the Internets. They're legit patients and caregivers, but they kind of took interpretation of the law into their own hands, massaged it around with a little urban legend, and voila;they can sell pot on Craigslist.

Except they can't.

Somewhere along the line, someone told these caregivers—and a lot of folks in the medical marijuana community along with them—that all you have to do is call it a donation, and you're legal. I would venture an educated guess that more than half of the medical marijuana community thinks it's legal for patients and caregivers to just go around trading donations for meds. But the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act forbids patients or caregivers from selling marijuana, period. There aren't any qualifiers in the law, such as "You can sell it if you don't say you're selling it, if you just call it a donation."

Well, that might be true if you are accepting donations from only your own patients. You're allowed five, and they have to be registered with the state. You can accept money from those five patients. And if you want to give your meds to patients, you can. The law allows us to freely give away cannabis ... for free. The key words there being "give" and "free."

If you exchange anything of value, um, like MONEY, you're selling it. The law does NOT allow patients to exchange anything whatsoever for cannabis, and it certainly doesn't allow caregivers to just throw up ads on Cragslist and sell weed to any old patient who wanders in off the street.

That's illegal.

And just so you know, Craigslist caregivers of the universe (and patients who think they're legal), you can't accept "donations" that exceed your REAL costs for growing the cannabis that you are providing only to your five registered patients via Craigslist. The money is to pay for growing cannabis, not putting a color-coordinated dash, tuned exhaust and ground effects on your Honda.

But the Gannett-Owned Newspaper to the North has apparently suddenly realized (as we noted in this space two years ago) that caregivers are openly selling cannabis on Craiglist, offering up cut-rate flower and extracts in ads touting, among other things, "some of the best bud Tucson has to offer, for a reduced price!!" He had shatter, too, "if dabs are more your thing!!"

That's from an ad that appeared back in April. This next one appeared up north April 5. I'm going to quote this one at length, because it amazes me. I doubt very, very much if this quaint notice offers any real protection. It's the Craigslist equivalent of the urban legend that cops are required to admit being cops if they're asked:

BY RESPONDING TO THIS AD I AGREE THAT: 1) I am a Arizona resident age 18 or older. 2) I have a written recommendation for the use of medical cannabis from my doctor. 3) I am not a law enforcement officer of any kind, or operating under an assumed name or in cooperation with any criminal investigation; nor am I seeking out evidence which may serve as the basis for any charge of violating federal, state, or local laws ... This is a legal advertisement for Medicinal marijuana in compliance with Arizona Prop 20."

Really? I challenge the attorneys among you to contact me and explain how this represents any protection from prosecution whatsoever. Right from No. 2, he has it wrong. You need more than a written recommendation from a doctor to use cannabis. You need the written recommendation to get a medical marijuana card. You need the card to use cannabis.

Anyway, you get the point. Craigslist buyer beware.

Morally and philosophically, I couldn't care less if these folks sell marijuana on Craigslist. I agree with them that it should be legal. After all, there's no law against me growing some corn and throwing it out in front of my farm under a hand-hewn shelter and selling it for whatever I can get per ear or pound or bushel. It's the American way—sell 'em if you got 'em.

But that doesn't extend to medical marijuana yet. For now, it's illegal for anyone but a dispensary to straight-up sell marijuana. I don't like it any more than you do, Craigslist caregivers of the great state of Arizona. I admire your entrepreneurial spirit, but what you're doing is illegal.