When the recreational possession and use of cannabis is legalized, but a regulated retail market is not, people are forced to think of creative ways to obtain and provide weed. In this case, though, the creativity comes from a cute canine named Sudo.
While a regulated recreational market has not been established in Washington D.C., the transfer of up to one-ounce of cannabis, from one of-age adult to another, is permitted. This hand-off is known as “gifting.” As a result, several creative businesses have popped up, operating in the grey area of the law, to meet the distribution needs for District residents.
In 2016, adults living in the nation’s capital could get free weed delivered with the purchase of fresh juice. Now, a pair of entrepreneurs have finally figured out what the people really want: to receive their free gift of cannabis by purchasing a painting made by an adorable Alaskan Klee Kai called Sudo.
District Derp is the Washington D.C. brand that is marketing “exceptional art for elevated minds,” and providing cannabis gifts in the form of dried flower, edibles, and vape cartridges to adults who buy one of Sudo’s paintings. Identification is required to make a purchase if you want the free “token of appreciation,” but the artwork alone is also for sale to those under the age of 21 or anyone living outside of Washington D.C..
Artwork orders can either be picked up or delivered. There is a minimum purchase amount of $40 required for pickup orders, and $80 for delivery. Orders are placed through the brand’s website, and a user account must be set up first for identity verification purposes. Once the account is created, customers have access to the art gallery offerings and corresponding gifts. Assuring that customers are 21 or older, the team requires that the name on an order match the valid identification shown at the time of hand-off.
Rather than a menu, since District Derp is not a licensed dispensary, there is a “gift guide” which details the different kinds of appreciative tokens available at the time the painting is purchased.
Flower offerings on the gift guide include strains like Pink Cookies, Papaya Dream, and Big Mac 11. Tahoe OG, White Widow, and Skywalker OG are available in vape cartridges, and edibles include a variety of chocolates, gummies, and an oat bar ranging in potency from 20mg to 65mg.
The star of the edibles has to be the 100mg Atomic Derps, which are described as “a brownie of epic proportions” that include a “cookie layer topped with Oreos, brownies and chocolate ganache.”
The plants harvested to make the tokens of appreciation come from seeds provided by the brand owners that are cultivated off-site by a licensed-caregiver. The edibles are created by the team in their home with extensive product testing and sampling to ensure that the goods are customer-ready before they are ever given out.
Overall, District Derp’s business model seems to value the important things when it comes to distributing cannabis. The brand’s website says that they focus on product quality and customer service. Most importantly, though, there is a cute dog who paints!
The brand also donates to charity. An appropriate choice, a portion of the revenue from selling Sudo’s paintings is donated to Homewards Trails Animal Rescue.
Due to the restrictions placed on nonessential businesses in Washington D.C., District Derp will remain closed until at least June 8. According to the brand’s website, they do plan to reopen when the stay-at-home orders are lifted.
How did Sudo learn to paint?
Sudo’s teammates say that it all started because she had a natural affinity for carrying sticks. She would often carry the stick of her choice, in her mouth, while on walks. Inspired by this, and a challenge from a friend, they created a special stick-like-prototype designed just for her. Sudo’s special doggy paintbrush is a “T-shaped brush that she can hold comfortably and naturally [to] look straight at the canvas while she paints.”
Why doesn’t Washington D.C. have recreational dispensaries?
Voters in Washington D.C. overwhelmingly approved Initiative 71 in November of 2014, effectively ending the prohibition of marijuana in the nation’s capital. The measure did not, however, include a framework for licensing dispensaries or commercial cultivation centers. Despite efforts from local leaders, like city council members and even the mayor, Congress blocked cannabis dispensaries from being allowed in the District. The Congressional block remains in place until at least September of this year.
Medical marijuana is a different story in the District, however, as there are currently seven medical dispensaries open to serve registered patients. Medical dispensaries were deemed essential businesses and have remained operational during the stay-at-home orders of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conditions which qualify a person to apply for a medical marijuana card in Washington D.C. include:
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
Conditions characterized by severe and persistent muscle spasms, such as multiple sclerosis
Certain cancer treatments also qualify a person for medical marijuana. These include:
New data from the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, released last week, shows that arrests for marijuana-related infractions in the nation’s capital rose substantially again from 2016 to 2017. In particular, busts for distribution have skyrocketed, while huge racial disparities in arrests continue unabated.
A total of 926 people were arrested for cannabis crimes in Washington, D.C. in 2017, up 37 percent from 676 in 2016.
The numbers had fallen dramatically in 2014 and 2015 after the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment went into effect in July 2014 and Initiative 71 went into effect in February 2015. The Amendment, approved by the D.C. Council in July 2014, decriminalized possession of up to one ounce. The Initiative, approved by 65 percent of voters that November, allows adults 21 and older to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, grow up to six plants and “gift” up to one ounce of cannabis to another adult.
But sales remain banned despite support from a majority of councilmembers and Mayor Muriel Bowser (D). That’s because Congress continues to attach language to annual funding bills that prevents D.C. from spending its own money to legalize and regulate the marijuana trade.
Overall marijuana arrests in the District have steadily increased in the two years since the initial drops following decriminalization and limited legalization, and a Marijuana Moment analysis of the new data shows that the rise appears to be related to the lack of a legal supply chain for cannabis.
In 2015, only 323 people were arrested for marijuana possession, consumption or distribution. In 2016, that number doubled, and 2017 arrests are nearly triple what they were in 2015. While not anywhere close to pre-decriminalization 2012 or 2013 numbers, the trend is unmistakable.
Types of Arrests
Strikingly, the type of charges made for cannabis-related arrests has been inverted in the last six years.
Since possession of limited amounts of cannabis is now legal in the District, possession arrests are rare (only 35 total in 2016-17). In turn, public consumption rates rose markedly in 2015 and 2016, but fell slightly in 2017 as police began applying more serious distribution charges more frequently.
Percentage-wise, the growth in distribution arrests is startling. In 2012, distribution accounted for only 4 percent of arrests. In 2017, it was 43.5 percent. Even by raw numbers, distribution arrests have soared. This type of bust rose 83 percent from 2016 to 2017, and nearly five times as many people were arrested on this charge in 2017 than in 2013 (403 and 83, respectively).
(If someone is arrested on multiple marijuana charges, only the most serious charge is listed in the data.)
In recent months, dozens of arrests have been made at “pop up events” that have emerged in the city in response to the “gifting” language in the law. Typically, vendors will sell unrelated products such as juices or shirts, and “gift” cannabis to those customers for free. But since the overall transactions require remuneration in the form of the supposedly unrelated purchases, police have said they violate city law.
That form of commerce—and the resulting arrests—would almost certainly diminish significantly if people could legally buy cannabis directly from licensed stores.
“Thanks to Congressional interference prohibiting the District from regulating marijuana, rather than collecting tax revenue and ensuring product safety, we are wasting resources and wreaking havoc on young people’s lives with continued arrests for marijuana use,” Kaitlyn Boecker, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, told Marijuana Moment in response to these latest numbers. “It’s absurd that despite legalization in the District, MPD continues to make such arrests. As former MPD Chief Cathy Lanier said years ago, ‘All those arrests do is make people hate us.’”
Racial Disparity in Arrests
The out-of-whack percentage of African Americans arrested in the District of Columbia for marijuana violations has been the subject of scrutiny for years now. The U.S. Census Bureauputs the African American population of the District at 47 percent and white (non-Hispanic) at 37 percent. But as this set of data reveals, for every 10 people arrested for a marijuana violation, nine of them are black.
In 2016, the numbers seemed to be improving slightly, with the share of African American cannabis arrests down 3.5 percentage points, but in 2017, the numbers rose slightly to return to 91 percent of arrests. Non-Hispanic Whites represented only 4 percent of arrests. In real numbers, 794 people coded “black” by the arresting officer were arrested in 2017, while only 35 people coded “white” but not “Hispanic” were arrested.
(A note on the data: Race is not recorded for arrests of juveniles. D.C. police say, “Race and ethnicity data are based on officer observation, which may or may not be accurate.”)
“The war on drugs has always been a war on people, particularly on people of color,” said Boecker. “Initiative 71 was passed by voters in large part to eliminate racial disparities in marijuana arrests, but due to racial bias and uneven enforcement, four years later Black men continue to be overwhelmingly targeted for arrests. This is unacceptable and must stop. Marijuana arrests do not advance public health or safety, and violate the will of the voters.”
Age of Those Arrested
From 2012-2017, the age of those arrested for marijuana infractions has stayed relatively steady. The one exception is the percentage of arrests for those under 21, which in 2016 jumped 8 percentage points, to 23 percent of those arrested, the highest year in this data set. In 2017, the percentage fell to 19.8 percent, which is still higher than 2013-15 numbers.
The numbers of those 21-29 arrested, by far the age group with the most arrests each year, fell and rose in tandem with these fluctuations in the younger cohort (down 5 percent in 2016, then back up a couple of points in 2017).
Women and Weed
Arrests of women for marijuana-related incidents leveled off in 2017, after four years of annual decreases. In 2012, women made up 12.6 percent of arrests. By 2016, that number had fallen to 7.1 percent (52 arrests). In 2017, 64 women were arrested — only 7.3 percent of total arrests.
Federal and Local Policies Both to Blame, Activists Say
Overall the new police data shows that while legalization of low-level possession and home cultivation in D.C. has driven a significant decline in marijuana arrests overall, discriminatory enforcement continues and issues related to the lack of a legal supply chain persist.
“I’m alarmed that D.C. had nearly 1,000 marijuana arrests last year three years after citizens overwhelming voted to legalize adult use of cannabis,” Adam Eidinger of DCMJ, the group that successfully campaigned for 2014’s legalization measure, told Marijuana Moment.
In addition to the congressional regulatory blockade, he pointed to the city’s own ban on public cannabis consumption as being partially at fault for the recent uptick in marijuana arrests.
“As a result people in public housing that does not allow cannabis use choose to consume outside risking arrest rather than smoke in their homes and risk eviction,” Eidinger said. “This catch 22 situation for cannabis users, including people carrying a medical card from the D.C. government, is the policy leading to more arrests.”
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
On Thursday, October 1, Oregon joined the ranks of those rare, but increasingly prevalent states that sell cannabis through dispensaries and retail outlets to citizens who are 21 and older. When Oregon passed Measure 91 in 2014, which legalized recreational cannabis possession and consumption for fans of the culture in the Beaver State, all stakeholders knew it would probably be 2016 before adults were actually able to legally walk into a safe, regulated retail outlet without a medical exemption and purchase cannabis.
The state surprised everyone when, over the summer, it announced that it would make recreational cannabis sales legal through existing dispensaries to expedite the rollout of the recreational market and get a leg up on illegal dealers eager to supply a newly motivated and hungry population of consumers. Said Portland resident John Finley:
“Before, I had to go through potentially dangerous, weird people in motels, for instance. Or just people I didn’t want to deal with or don’t trust. It was legal, but I didn’t have any options.”
A Short History
In 1998, Oregon became the second state in the nation to pass a medical marijuana law that permitted and regulated the cultivation, processing, and dispensation of medical cannabis to patients with a wide range of ailments.
Roughly 200 of Oregon’s 345 medical dispensaries have registered with the state to expand their customer base to recreational consumers. On June 30, Oregon passed HB 3400, a law to regulate recreational sales, including a detailed seed-to-sale tracking system and the progressive expungement of thousands of non-violent cannabis offenses.
Senate Bill 460, which Oregon governor Kate Brown signed during the summer, allowed recreational sales via dispensaries beginning on October 1 as a means of kickstarting the state’s recreational legalization while the Oregon Liquor Control Commission crafts regulatory language that will set the rules for all recreational marijuana sales in the state. Recreational sales will be tax-free until January 4, 2016, when a 25 percent tax will go into effect.
On July 1, Oregon’s recreational law went into effect, making it legal for millions of Oregonians to possess up to eight ounces of the herb, grow small amounts at home (four plants, if kept out of public view), and take up to an ounce outside their residence. But with only a network of medical dispensaries and no existing recreational retail outlets, cannabis consumers in the state have been trapped in a Catch 22, with no convenient and safe access to the herb that has finally been legalized.
By allowing medical dispensaries to also sell cannabis to recreational users, the state hopes to establish an advantage over the black market and cartels, pushing organized crime out of communities and generating much needed tax revenue. Unfortunately, the state will not even begin accepting applications from entrepreneurs and businesses for retail licenses allowing cultivation, processing, testing, and retail sales of cannabis and cannabis products until January 4, 2016. Recreational retail outlets are expected to begin opening later in 2016, most likely the third and fourth quarter.
Oregon joins Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and the District of Columbia to offer adults 21 and older the legal right to purchase, possess, and consume cannabis for non-medical purposes. Ironically, while California was the first state to establish a legal and semi-regulated environment for medical cannabis in 1996 with Proposition 215, technically speaking, recreational sales are still illegal in the state (a recreational ballot issue scheduled for 2016 is expected to pass). Like Oregon until now, Alaska, which has legalized possession and consumption for all adults, also has not begun legal sales of cannabis to recreational consumers.
While pot sales between individuals remains illegal, gifting and sharing herb is permitted in Oregon. The new recreational law allows citizens to purchase “flower and dry leaf products, plants, and seeds,” according to Oregon.gov. Note the distinct exception of concentrates and edibles. Unfortunately, residents of Oregon who choose to take advantage of the state’s new recreational legalization will be limited to only seven grams (a quarter ounce) of flowers (buds) and related products (the same daily amount that Colorado allows tourists to purchase, while residents can purchase an ounce per visit).
This restriction will be teasingly painful due to the fact that recreational consumers can currently legally shop only in certain medical dispensaries, most of which also sell edibles and concentrates to patients. While displayed direction in front of customers, dispensaries won’t be permitted to sell such prominently promoted products to recreational shoppers. Oregon’s recreational smokers and vapers simply won’t have legal, safe access to concentrates such as Butane Hash Oil (BHO) and its myriad variants (like wax, shatter, and crumble), tinctures, CO2 oil, and live resin.
For those thinking of purchasing and consuming recreational cannabis in Oregon who aren’t tapped into the details of what’s permitted, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has published an infographic that may help. Those sad about a lack of legal access to edibles and concentrates can print out a copy and use it to blow their nose and wipe their tears of frustration.
Where Things Stand
Oregon has set a new record in the sparsely crowded field of states that allow recreational cannabis sales. It sold $11 million worth of non-medical weed after one week of sales. Compare this to what other recreationally legal states sold during their first week of legality:
Congress took very little time to kill an amendment that would have permitted limited federal research into the medical efficacy of cannabis. The effort was apparently killed by the House Judiciary Committee, which is led by Virginia Republican Robert Goodlatte.
It can easily be argued that nothing significant was lost in the demise of this amendment, however. Research permitted by the legislation would have been limited to that conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under guidance from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — somewhat akin to allowing the fox to run the hen house.
In addition, the regulations for the proposed new Schedule IR (the “R” indicating research), under which marijuana would have been re-classified if the amendment had passed, would have been written by the DEA. Even more disturbing is the fact that one of the amendment’s sponsors, Maryland Republican Andy Harris, a physician, sponsored the legislation based on his belief that the research would prove marijuana is dangerous and lacks medical benefits.
Harris is the same politician who crafted legislation intended to block the District of Columbia’s recreational legalization. Because D.C.’s law was passed as a ballot initiative (winning 65 percent of the vote), Harris is directly defying the will of the District’s voters — and they aren’t even his constituents.
The bi-partisan legislation was sponsored by two Democrats and two Republicans. Morgan Griffith, the other Republican behind the amendment, was hopeful that the bill would pass and that the medical merits of marijuana would be proven through hard clinical research. Said Griffith after the legislation was killed:
“Andy Harris doesn’t think the research will show anything positive, but I do, and both of us feel willing to take the risk, do the research, and let us use evidence to make decisions. This amendment would have answered the question one way or the other. I think it would have shown it is a valuable medical substance, but now we don’t have the evidence.”
While cannabis research of any type is welcome to a vibrant medical marijuana community and a burgeoning recreational industry, clinical studies conducted by the NIH and DEA would likely have been very limited, may have taken years to get started, may not have involved human subjects, and likely would have used relatively low-quality cannabis from the University of Mississippi farm (meaning the resulting efficacy for test subjects may have also been unrealistically low).
Conservatives and prohibitionists are doing their best to kill off efforts to simply research cannabis to determine if it is objectively beneficial as a medicine. Bills like the bi-partisan CARERS Act, which would reclassify marijuana as Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act, would allow for robust research. Given the short life of the Schedule IR amendment, efforts like CARERS may be in for a bumpy ride.
The unwillingness of Congress to reschedule cannabis to allow any type of research could be interpreted as a conservative effort to prevent favorable research findings from proving the efficacy of the herb. Despite relatively rapid progress resulting in 23 states with legal medical programs in place and Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia having legalized recreational use, the full legalization of cannabis in the United States will be far from easy.
Unfortunately, given the power and money of conservative forces that oppose legalization and the culture of marijuana, national legalization that allows all citizens to possess and consume marijuana is in no way guaranteed.
Voters in Washington D.C. ended marijuana prohibition within the district last election day. Retail marijuana sales have not been legalized in the capital, but legislation to pass that is also in the works. If marijuana use is legalized, is it fair for employers to discriminate against users by drug testing job applicants?
Orange reportedly addressed this issue with the statements,
“The citizens of the District voted for Initiative 71, to legalize marijuana, and this bill will protect citizens who legally smoke marijuana but are then subsequently penalized for it through loss of employment opportunities. The bill aims to prevent the loss of a job opportunity for job seekers who have used marijuana prior to receiving a job offer but it does not remove an employer’s right to prohibit the use of drugs at work or at any time during employment.”
Once an employee officially accepts a job offer, he or she is still required to follow workplace policies, and nothing in the bill addresses drug testing hired employees. The bill only protects pre-employment discrimination for marijuana use.