Days after Governor Charlie Baker signed a measure delaying the opening of recreational marijuana retail shops statewide by six months, a budding entrepreneur took to Craigslist to offer people a backdoor approach to getting their hands on some pot — one that authorities say would violate the new law.
In an ad posted to the website titled “Bud, weed, marijuana, cannabis,” a person who identified himself as “Corey” listed for sale empty plastic bags ranging in price from $20 to $325. Depending on which bag is purchased, the seller promised to include a “gift” of marijuana inside.
The most expensive empty plastic bag came with “27.8g of any or multiple strains” of the drug, according to the listing, which was buried in the “farm and garden services” section.
“I am selling you an empty bag,” wrote the person who placed the ad, which went up Sunday. “Marijuana placed In that empty sandwich bag is simply a legal gift, Not connected in anyway, to any sale.”
New England Public Radio first reported on the Craigslist post this week.
Giving away — or “gifting”— up to one ounce of marijuana is now legal in Massachusetts, under a ballot initiative passed by voters in the November election. People over the age of 21 can also grow, possess, and smoke the drug under the law.
But selling marijuana remains illegal until regulated retail shops open sometime in 2018. And both masking payments and advertising and promoting a weed giveaway publicly violate the new law, state officials say.
“The new regime allows a person not licensed to operate a marijuana establishment to ‘gift’ marijuana in quantities under one ounce,” according to a memo sent to State Police by Daniel Bennett, secretary of the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, after the new law was passed.
Bennett wrote that attempts to game the law by using “delayed or disguised payments, contemporaneous reciprocal ‘gifts’ of money or items of value, or other sham transactions,” are still criminal acts.
The person who posted the listing changed the ad’s text Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m not advertising free marijuana gifts. Oh no,” the person wrote. “I’m just saying that I’m awesome. E-mail me and we can go out for dinner. And talk more about the subject. smoke a fatty. And chill. I’m not advertising free marijuana gifts.”
A call to the number listed on the ad went unanswered. In a text message from the same number, someone said they were “very busy” and could not talk.
Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan, whose office has jurisdiction in the area near where the “gifts” were being advertised, said in a statement that such an attempt at a workaround would break the law.
“It is clear that the Craigslist ads for gifting marijuana are illegal. The ‘gifting’ of marijuana for a $300 empty plastic baggie is a complete ruse,” he told the Globe in an e-mail. “Unfortunately, law enforcement authorities are likely to see an increase in end-arounds to the new state law.”Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.