Most people won’t pay $55 for a bottle of fruit juice – no matter how organic, fair trade, or gluten-free it is. But what if that juice was delivered to your door and came with a cannabis “gift” on the side?
That’s how one innovative company, HighSpeed Delivery, is using decriminalization laws to its advantage in the Washington D.C. area. According to the District of Columbia’s Initiative 71, adults over the age of 21 may possess up to two ounces of cannabis. And, while the “distribution” of weed is still illegal, adults may “transfer (but not sell)” up to one ounce of cannabis to other adults without facing any penalties.
It’s this loophole that allows HighSpeed Delivery to deliver cannabis (and juice, of course) to customers. With flavors like Rose Water and Charcoal Lemonade, the company offers three payment options: $11 for “just juice,” $55 for juice and a donation to “show love,” or $150 for juice and a “lots of love” donation. All options include a gift of cannabis, although the amount of “love” donated determines how big your gift will be. Most customers opt for the $55 option, which earns them an eighth of an ounce alongside their beverage.
Is it Really Legal?
A similar business initiative, Kush Gods, tried to make use of the same loophole: for a “donation,” D.C. residents could receive edibles or cannabis from a luxury vehicle emblazoned with images of buds. Nicholas Cunningham, Kush Gods’ owner and operator, claimed that his endeavour was legal, but after a few transactions with undercover officers, Cunningham’s cars and “gifts” were seized in December last year. In court, Cunningham pleaded guilty to two counts of selling cannabis to an undercover officer; he was sentenced to 180 days in jail, which was suspended, and received a 2-year probation instead.
In Cunningham’s case, two main issues led to his arrest: a mandatory donation essentially amounts to a payment for goods, and Kush Gods had no system in place to prevent sales to minors. So, while the laws may be ambiguous, law-makers and -enforcers are not so lenient in their interpretation of Initiative 71.
HighSpeed Delivery, however, does offer products that are separate from the cannabis gifts that customers receive. According to their website, they “sell niche foods and drinks” and “give cannabis as a gift.” Furthermore, HighSpeed’s deliveryperson checks the buyer’s driver’s license, which must match the billing information for the purchase – ensuring that all sales are to adults over 21. This could aid the company’s case should they be taken to court. HighSpeed’s CEO, David Umeh, had also apparently consulted a team of lawyers before the company’s launch, although expansion plans are on hold for the time being.
Is It Any Good?
HighSpeed Delivery began in Oakland, CA, but kicked off their D.C. branch in January this year. They’ve experienced exponential growth, which has led to some issues with service and customer satisfaction.
One customer I spoke, Vincent, purchased two $55 donations as the $150 option was sold out. He was excited to receive his products – “especially since they’ve made a big deal about how good the juices are” – but was disappointed when the order arrived with a bag of chickpea crackers and a juice from Pret A Manger, instead of the two juices he ordered. He admits that the cannabis was the “real” product, and was satisfied with the quality and strain he received. Nonetheless, Vincent felt that the delivery service could be better: his order arrived 30 minutes after the expected arrival time, and customer service has yet to reply to his calls or emails about the delivery error.
However, with the alternatives of finding a dealer, “jump[ing] through whatever hoops necessary to obtain a medical license,” or growing your own cannabis, HighSpeed Delivery does have its perks, and may inspire other similar businesses to start gifting cannabis along with other services and products.