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Are D.C.'s weed delivery services legal?

If you're looking for marijuana in Washington, D.C., you could have it at your doorstep within an hour – along with art, juice, or clothing.

If you’re looking for marijuana in Washington, D.C., you could have it at your doorstep within an hour – along with art, juice, or clothing.

More and more marijuana delivery services are popping up around town, and they all seem to operate in a similar fashion.

They sell a regular product but marijuana comes with the order. The most recent one opened this week and they are joining a moderately established market.

Last year, WUSA9 spoke with the owner of HighSpeed, a company that offers cold pressed juice and – for a higher cost – a side of “love.”

"Before anything else. We are a cold press juice delivery company. We sell cold pressed juice. Anyone that has used HighSpeed and got cannabis it was Christmas,” said David Umeh. “And that's why we're legal."

The “Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014,” or Initiative 71, made it legal for individuals 21 years of age and older to smoke on private property, possess up to two ounces of marijuana, and grow six plants. However, it did not legalize the sale of any of it.

So are services delivering weed as a “gift” legal?

WUSA9 reached out to at least six of these businesses. Some didn’t respond or were opposed to on-camera interview requests.

The business owners who spoke to us off-camera said they believe their business is legal because they do not directly sell marijuana – they technically are selling the other (legal) product.

RELATED: Kush Gods plan to get back on the streets

The D.C. Police Department disagrees.

“We view any company that advertises that they provide marijuana for any type of payment as illegal. That would include ones that advertise other services in exchange for a marijuana ‘gift.’ The U.S. Attorney’s Office has successfully prosecuted these cases,” Lt. Andrew Struhar said in a statement.

When asked for examples of prosecution, the police department deferred to the Office of the Attorney General.
A spokesperson there told WUSA9 he was only aware of prosecution involving one group like this, a group called “Kush Gods.”

The owner of Kush Gods, Nicholas Cunningham, pled guilty to selling marijuana to an undercover cop. He said his business was all donation based. He argued he gave away the marijuana, and people gave him a cash “donation” – but unlike these other groups, Cunningham did not appear to offer any non-cannabis products.

So, again, are services delivering weed as a “gift” legal? If not, how are they working in the open?

Perhaps the best person to answer that is Adam Eidinger, one of the main proponents of Initiative 71 – and the person who actually proposed it.

In the house where he began collecting signatures for the ballot initiative that changed the face of DC’s marijuana world, he said he believes the services are illegal

"We voted on legalization without commercialization,” Eidinger said. "As the author of the law, as someone who has consulted multiple lawyers to interpret what we wrote, there's nothing in there that says you can get money for marijuana, and if the government can establish that's what you're doing, then you're breaking the law.

Eidinger said there is no loophole in the law.

"It's possible that there's just isn't enough evidence to prosecute them at this time. It's possible that the D.C. Police have kept it a low priority and they don't think it needs to be prioritized,” he said. “It is still illegal but there are a lot of other more serious things going on.

At the same time, Eidinger said the initiative did not go far enough – and Congress needs to back off so D.C. can address the sale of marijuana.

"The next step is Congress getting out of the way and letting us write our own laws here. [Representatives like Andy Harris of Maryland] are blocking us from writing anymore marijuana laws,” he said. “We were too successful with this one I guess.”

"Our founders of this country were merchants that were tired of paying taxes to a King that they had no say over what he did,” Eidinger said. “I think in D.C. right now, what you have with these entrepreneurs who ware saying, marijuana’s legal we should be able to do this is that they're acting kind of like those early patriots."

"While they are breaking the law - I think they're definitely breaking the law - they're trying to change the law through their actions."

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