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:
Residents of Washington, D.C., are battling local and federal officials for the right to not only possess, cultivate, and use cannabis, but to legally purchase it from licensed distributors, following the passage of a ballot initiative last year.
The ballot initiative in question, Ballot Initiative 71, which decriminalized cannabis in the District, took effect 11 months ago. Yet the measure’s full enactment has been stymied by elected officials, both in Congress and in the D.C. government.
In late 2014, Congress passed the spending bill with a rider attached stipulating that the District was to spend no additional funds to “enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties” related to cannabis.
The administration of the District’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, fought to uphold what residents voted for — full legalization including the right to establish regulations for retail sales. However, after being threatened with jail time for willfully violating the law, should she continue to defend the enactment of Initiative 71, Bowser’s fight for the right to cannabis fizzled. Some say Bowser’s administration took the crackdown several steps further with the “Home Grow, Home Use” campaign, an interpretation at odds with that of many of the District’s residents and activists.
The administration also raised alarms about the unregulated sale of cannabis in the District, and pushed through the DC Council emergency legislation that banned all cannabis use outside of the home. The DC Council is said to be moving ahead with similar legislation that would make the ban permanent.
“District residents are fed up with congressional interference with local marijuana policy. D.C. lawmakers would be wise not to cede more control of local marijuana policy to Congress by approving the Mayor’s ban on marijuana consumption,”
said Kaitlyn Boecker, a policy associate at the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance.
Last November voters in Washington D.C. approved Initiative 71, the measure that legalized personal possession and consumption of marijuana for adults in the District. This newly enacted amendment does not, however, contain a provision to address legal purchases or sales to facilitate the legal use.
This means that adults may possess and use, but do not have a legal way to obtain the plant without cultivating at home. To encourage residents to abide by the law, which means no monetary exchanges, the D.C. Cannabis Campaign is sponsoring two seed sharing events this week.
More than 1,300 have people signed up for the exchanges. The first of which is scheduled at the Libertine in the Adams Morgan neighborhood from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Thursday. The second is scheduled for Saturday March 28 from 4:20 to 7:00pm at the D.C. Cannabis Campaign Headquarters.
Adam Eidinger, leader of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign said,
“This is a historic moment. It really does mark the conclusion of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign. We’ve accomplished our goals.”
Eidinger believes the seed share demonstrates authentic marijuana legalization. It’s a grass roots movement where making money is not the focus.
He added that the participants are people who formerly bought marijuana off the black market, but if they grow their own, they won’t have to purchase it illegally any more.
Eidinger has publicized that there should be no cannabis usage at the gathering, but only the sharing of seeds and cultivation tips. He stated,
“I’ve said to people, basically: Come, get your seeds and go home and plant them.”
The day before marijuana was scheduled to be officially legalized in Washington D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser was warned that she could face time in jail if she allows legalization to go through in the District.
Although the voters of Washington D.C. demonstrated their support the legalization of marijuana last election day, a rider attached to the federal omnibus spending bill blocked any money from being spent to establish legalization regulations or implement any “law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance.”
Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, despite the fact that many medical organizations, scientists and people, including lawmakers, are calling for it to be rescheduled.
The federal spending bill was signed by President Obama, and therefore it is illegal for District officials to spend even a single dollar to enact Initiative 71. After Mayor Bowser announced on Tuesday February 24 that marijuana would become legal at 12:01 am on Thursday February 26, she was issued a warning.
Two lawmakers, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) issued Mayor Bowser a letter stating, “If you decide to move forward tomorrow with the legalization of marijuana in the District, you will be doing so in knowing and willful violation of the law.”
During an interview with The Washington Post, Rep. Chaffetz spoke more about the issue,
“Federal law, signed by the president, confirms that D.C. cannot move forward. If they are under any illusion that this would be legal, they are wrong. And there are very severe consequences for violating this provision.”
Rep. Chaffetz continued,
“You can go to prison for this. We’re not playing a little game here.”
The letter, authored by Representatives Chaffetz and Meadows, also demands a response from Mayor Bowser containing very specific details about the city employees involved in the legalization process, among other information. The information required, due no later than March 10, includes the names of all employees who “participated in any way in any action related to the enactment of Initiative 71,” as well as each person’s title, salary and number of hours dedicated to related work. The letter also asks for names of any person who refused to participate in the enactment of Initiative 71.
Just days after being sworn in as the new Mayor of Washington D.C. in January, Mayor Bowser promised to fight for the will of DC voters during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, with the statement,
“We want to respect the will of the D.C. voters, and we think that initiative 71 was self-enacting. … We want to work with our Congress and we want the will of the residents of D.C. to be enforced.”
Mayor Bowser came through with her promise on Thursday February 26 when she announced that marijuana was effectively legal in the District. Mayor Bowser and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier have worked hard to educate District residents on exactly what is and what is not legal under Initiative 71.
It will be very interesting to see how this plays out. The warning letter from the two representatives alludes to the notion that they may be planning to take some kind of legal action against all city employees involved in the enactment of Initiative 71 since it request such detailed information.
After many hurdles, the marijuana legalization amendment approved by voters in November 2014 went into effect in the first minute of Thursday February 26.
Although there will not be any legally-operating recreational marijuana dispensaries in the capital city of the United States, there are many changes that residents should understand to prevent any misunderstandings.
Under the new law, adults aged 21 and older may legally:
Possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis at any time.
Use marijuana on private property.
Gift (without payment) up to 1 ounce of cannabis to another adult.
Cultivate up to 6 plants in a secure location, no more than 3 of which can be mature.
The legalization amendment did not alter the ban on public usage, however, nor driving under the influence. Any person caught using marijuana in public or driving after using will still risk legal trouble. Any person caught trading marijuana for money, instead of ‘gifting,’ will also still risk prosecution.
What are the penalties?
An individual arrested for consuming marijuana in public will face up to 60 days in jail or a $500 fine.
First time offenders convicted of selling marijuana will face 6 months in jail or a $1,000 fine.
Restaurant and business owners that allow patrons to use marijuana will risk losing their business license and certificate of occupancy.
On February 24, Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted the infographic below to help simplify the new laws for District residents. Even more useful tools and a list of frequently asked questions to help residents of Washington D.C. understand the new laws can be found on mayor.dc.gov, and they are printed below.