Attorney General John Suthers and Denver police chief Robert White are on the right track. They need to nip this new nonsense about Amendment 64 in the bud.
What nonsense? The idea that the amendment authorizes "gifts" of marijuana in return for a "donation" to a person or a retail store or in return for other purchases at a store.
True, under Amendment 64 you can "transfer" 1 ounce or less of marijuana "without remuneration" to someone at least 21 years old. But if you're getting something in return, then you're receiving remuneration.
And you're breaking the law.
Remuneration doesn't have to be cash. It can be a reward or other non-cash compensation. The too-clever-for-their-own-good scam artists who are trying to stretch the meaning of Amendment 64 and thus become informal drug retailers need to check a dictionary.
That's why we were pleased to see, as reported by CBS4, Suthers and White agree that such schemes are illegal under the amendment. "It is illegal and we are investigating as we speak," White told a City Council committee. He was referring in part to a report that an art gallery was offering "free" marijuana in return for a suggested donation.
John Ingold of The Denver Post reported a similar if slightly more sophisticated scheme involving a head shop near Sports Authority Field offering through Craigslist "2 GRAMS OF BUD FREE WITH $30 OR MORE PURCHASE IN OUR HEAD SHOP.
But if the 2 grams are "free" only with a purchase, then they're not free.
You may wonder why any of this matters if we're going to allow retail sales of marijuana anyway as early as next January. It matters because those sales will be regulated and monitored. Amendment 64 specifically authorizes "sale of marijuana or marijuana products to consumers, if the person conducting the activities described in this paragraph has obtained a current, valid license to operate a retail marijuana store or is acting in his or her capacity as an owner, employee or agent of a licensed retail marijuana store."
Surely that language outlaws the types of exchanges described above. So why did one of the authors of Amendment 64 tell The Post that "it's a tricky issue" and that "the concept of remuneration has not been clearly established."
While the concept hasn't been clearly established in courts of law since the passage of Amendment 64 just four months ago how could it have been? it should be obvious to anyone with common sense that trading a "donation" for a "gift" is a way around the measure voters passed. And because it undermines the regulatory framework contained in Amendment 64, it should be suppressed.
The Denver Post, Feb. 24