The holidays may be over but one Craigslist user is still exhibiting the spirit of giving…or at least that’s what his ad technically states. New England Public Radio
was among the first to draw public attention to a listing on the western Massachusetts Craigslist page for “dispensary grade marijuana.” Keep in mind that, though recreational marijuana has been legalized in Massachusetts, the kinks of selling weed are still being worked out. But this ent-repreneur wrote in a safeguard to his advertisement, sealing the deal with “Disclaimer: I am selling you an empty bag. Marijuana placed In that empty sandwich bag is simply a legal gift, Not connected in anyway, to any sale.” If only it were that easy.
The Delay on Selling Weed in Massachusetts
To get an overview of the situation in Massachusetts, the state has legalized recreational weed but has put a delay on the sale of weed until mid-2018. While states often need time to set up infrastructures from scratch, the way that Massachusetts lawmakers are handling the process is causing some controversy. Initially, January 1, 2018 was the targeted date for the legal sale of marijuana but state officials quietly pushed that date back to mid-2018 last week while the public was caught up in that distracting period between Christmas and New Year. The public was not consulted in any way; a fact that some are seeing as the lawmakers working against the voice of the people. Perhaps the delay would be viewed with less skepticism if every lawmaker involved hadn’t been vocally against the legalization of marijuana. Obviously anticipating backlash, Governor Charlie Baker stated his commitment to working closely with public safety officials to put the legalization infrastructure in place as the people of Massachusetts have demanded. How did his assurances go over? We’ll let a response from Erik Altieri, executive director for NORML
, summarize: “The arrogance and hubris lawmakers are showing toward voters is remarkable.”
Giving the Gift of Marijuana
It’s no coincidence that the appearance of Craigslist ads offering to hock weed to the people of Massachusetts popped up just days after Baker signed the bill delaying recreational sales. The ad referring to the marijuana as a gift is particularly novel for its attempts to work within the constraints of Massachusetts marijuana laws. Though sales are still off the table, it’s perfectly legal to gift an ounce or less of weed. The listing on Craigslist gives a variety of options from a $20 empty sandwich bag (with a 1 gram gift of weed) to a $325 empty sandwich bag (with 27.8g of any strain of the buyer’s choice or even multiple strains). Reading the listing, it becomes clear that this is a sincere attempt to sell weed through Craigslist.
Not Exactly Robin Hood
It’s tempting to praise the seller for trying to stick it to the man. We have state officials claiming they’re working in the best interest for the health and safety of the public by instituting lengthy delays against public demand. Maybe these lawmakers are genuinely trying to be thorough but given their vocal history of marijuana opposition, they’re more likely just trying to establish the most conservative regulations possible. It’s not exactly a Robin Hood approach but if an individual with an entrepreneurial spirit wants to fudge the law to give the people what they want, it’s hard not to appreciate his/her maverick spirit.
The Public Face of Legalization
On the other hand, despite the seller’s best efforts to comply with state law, s/he is actually in violation with his/her ad. While Massachusetts allows gifts of up to an ounce of weed, those gifts cannot be advertised publicly. This is, of course, assuming that the seller wouldn’t be outright busted for selling weed with such a flimsy cover. This period of legalization is sensitive and, though prohibitionist perspectives are painfully outdated, they deserve to be acknowledged in a democracy. Whether we respect the seller’s stiff middle finger to the extended sales delay or are simply amused by an attempt at selling weed through Craigslist, incidents like this don’t really help the push for legalization.
The people of Massachusetts have a right, some may even say a responsibility, to voice their disapproval to their government about the additional 6-month delay placed on selling weed. But trying to find sneaky ways to sell it on Craigslist is probably not the most effective approach. Confidence does not hide and if we’re to ever sway prohibitionists into trusting that marijuana use is a completely normally, acceptable right in our society, it must be presented to them with confidence.