Some companies have found a way to sell and deliver marijuana without operating a retail store in states that have legalized the drug for recreational use.
It's a loophole of sorts.
They are taking advantage of a "gifting" provision that lawmakers intentionally included in the law, The Associated Press reported. The provision allows adults to exchange or "gift" small amounts of pot to another adult. For example, the law makes it legal for people to share a joint at a party or give some pot to someone for their birthday, but some have taken it a step further.
The states with the provision are Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state, plus the District of Columbia. Vermont is the only state state where pot is legal and doesn't have the provision. However, it's not expressly banned, so this type of exchange would be allowed, experts told the AP.
How do the companies operate?
Some companies are advertising themselves as juice-delivery companies or T-shirt companies, and when you place an order for one of their high-priced everyday items, it comes with a "free" gift of pot.
Duuber, a company in the Boston area, has drivers who deliver marijuana-themed T-shirts that come with gifts of marijuana. The more you pay for the shirt, the more free pot you get with it.
Another company called HighSpeed operates as a juice-delivery company. A single bottle of juice will cost you $55, and you get the marijuana for free.
Some of the companies jumped in ahead of the opening of retail shops to snag an early place in the market. And much of the advertising is done through word-of-mouth.
What about states with retail shops?
In states that have retail storefronts, the gifting provision cuts into their sales and into state marijuana tax revenues.
Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, told the AP he thinks opening retail shops will eventually make the underground operations go away.
“People want quality control-tested products,” Fox said. “The sooner that happens, the sooner this sort of thing disappears.”
But that hasn't been the case in Colorado where retail shops have been operating since 2014. In Colorado Springs, police shut down 14 gifting operations last year.