Colorado: Denver Cops Combing Craiglist, Facebook For Illegal Marijuana Sales
By Steve Elliott
Denver Police are combing Craigslist and Facebook to find black market marijuana dealers who illegally promote their products online, law enforcement said on Thursday.
Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado for adults 21 and older, but Denver Police Department spokesman Doug Schepman claimed pot dealers are circumventing state law by using online marketplaces like Craigslist and Facebook to stimulate sales, reports Andrew Blake at The Washington Times.
The Denver-area Craigslist page on Friday had more than 700 postings where marijuana is listed under the "for sale" category. Thousands of people are using the website to sell pot online, according to Kevin Torres at Fox 31 Denver.
"I think the black market in general is still very active and Craigslist is a perfect example of the active black market," said Lauren Harris, owner of Dynama Consultikng, a cannabis consulting firm that helps dispensaries navigate the rules of Colorado's legal marijuana industry.
Law enforcement, always fond of making easy pot busts, are, of course, just delighted that marijuana deals done over the Internet are still illegal. "I think the easiest rule of thumb for people to understand is in Colorado there's no legal marketplace online for buying and selling marijuana," Schepman said.
“Our narcotics unit does conduct undercover operations where they reach out through ads just like this,” admitted the police spokesman, referring to the hundreds of active online posts where dealer list prices by the ounce, or in some instances ask for "donations."
“When you go to the point of saying, ‘I’m going to transfer marijuana to you for a trade or a donation,’ [you’re] breaking the law,” Schepman said.
“The only people who can sell cannabis are licensed dispensaries or a caregiver who provides it to a patient in accordance with the voluminous state rules and regulations,” said Lauren Davis, a Denver-area criminal defense attorney, reports Susan Squibb at The Cannabist.
There have been plenty of pot dealers on Craigslist and Facebook in Denver -- and pretty much everywhere else -- even before marijuana became legal more than two years ago. They can still attract plenty of customers, because they aren't subject to the steep, double-digit taxes imposed by the state on licensed shops.
One loophole does exist in Colorado, unlike in Washington state, where the even more onerous legalization law doesn't even allow giveaways. In Colorado, at least, you can legally give away cannabis.
“It is legal for adults to give away up to an ounce of cannabis ‘without remuneration.’ Remuneration includes any compensation or trade,” Davis said, “so in other words, you can gift it to someone when that transfer is not part of a tit-for-tat exchange. Otherwise you are in violation of the criminal law.”
Graphic: Big Buds Mag