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No crackdown on pot ‘gifting’ businesses in Boston area

By PHILIP MARCELOFebruary 1, 2018
In this Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 photo, a bottle of tea and marijuana from HighSpeed juice delivery service are displayed together, in Walpole, Mass. Companies like HighSpeed have been exploiting a provision in state marijuana laws that allows people to exchange up to an ounce of marijuana, so long as it's given away or "gifted" without any money exchanged. The tea was at least $60, but the marijuana was free. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
In this Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 photo, a bottle of tea and marijuana from HighSpeed juice delivery service are displayed together, in Walpole, Mass. Companies like HighSpeed have been exploiting a provision in state marijuana laws that allows people to exchange up to an ounce of marijuana, so long as it's given away or "gifted" without any money exchanged. The tea was at least $60, but the marijuana was free. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts’ legalization of recreational marijuana has created a cottage industry of companies selling the drug under the guise of giving it away for free.

At least two companies have been operating in the Boston area for more than a year, The Associated Press has found. At least two others have operated in western Massachusetts.

HighSpeed has drivers that deliver high-priced bottles of juice within 7 miles of downtown Boston that also come with a “gift” of marijuana. Duuber is a Boston-area company that ostensibly sells marijuana-themed T-shirts but also rewards its customers with marijuana gifts.

But since the state’s recreational marijuana law took effect on Dec. 15, 2016, there haven’t been any prosecutions or arrests related to so-called gifting operations, the AP found.

The AP requested records from the state’s 11 district attorney’s offices, the state attorney general’s office, the state police and Massachusetts’ five largest cities: Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Lowell and Cambridge.

In western Massachusetts, officials looked into a Craigslist ad offering plastic sandwich bags ranging from $20 to $325 a pop last January (the marijuana included in them, of course, was free).

But authorities couldn’t prove the identity of the seller, so no charges were filed, the Northwestern District Attorney’s office said. The advertisement has since been taken down.

In Springfield, city officials ordered a smoke shop called Mary Jane Makes Your Heart Sing to shut down last March after it gave marijuana to customers who paid a $25 to $50 admission fee.

The owners cooperated with a cease-and-desist order and haven’t reopened the shop, Police Commissioner John Barbieri said.

And in Boston, police said they had “no records responsive” to the AP’s request.

When asked specifically about the continued operation of HighSpeed and Duuber within the city limits, Lt. Michael McCarthy, a department spokesman, responded: “Our drug control unit continues to monitor these instances, and as of this date no violations have been identified.”

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Follow Philip Marcelo at twitter.com/philmarcelo. His work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/philip_marcelo.

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