Is It Legal to Buy Cannabis at a Dispensary for a Friend?

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Legal, shmeegal, people buy cannabis at a dispensary for a friend every day. Of course, that doesn’t make it legal.

How legal is it to buy cannabis at a dispensary for someone else? If this worries you, you should check on your state laws:

• Alaska: If you are 21, you can possess up to one ounce of marijuana. Even though there is no limit on purchasing, you cannot carry more than an ounce at a time. Considering the vast Alaskan wilderness, personal delivery is a necessary convenience. Alaska does not address the issue of delivery, but personal delivery is the only way some citizens can secure cannabis or medical marijuana on the white market.

• California: California doesn’t yet know what it’s doing. The state’s so big, its demographics so diverse, and its market so demanding, the market has not settled into descriptive or prescriptive patterns. They’ve been wrestling with regulations, unlicensed ventures, issues about delivery, and infused edibles and beverages.

If you are over 21 years of age, you can obtain, possess, process, purchase, transport, or give away up to 1 ounce or 8 grams of cannabis. Certain things are unacceptable even if they haven’t been addressed in regulations. For example, you cannot exceed the allowed purchase, possession, or transport rules just to carry some for a friend. You cannot provide the product to minors. And, you cannot accept remuneration for the delivery. On the other hand, there is no way to monitor or enforce such practices.

• Colorado: It is Colorado’s position that their oversight and prosecution end when the cannabis customer and product leave the store. However, repeated visits to supply others could be construed as a black-market delivery service.

Colorado citizens and tourists over 21 can legally purchase and possess one ounce of THC in a single transaction. This specification allows the combination of products so long as they do not exceed one ounce of THC.

The state defers such control to local authorities. That is, an occasional purchase and delivery will not warrant prosecution. You may be buying and delivering a product to a sick or disabled medical patient. But if there is a pattern of repeated runs to various “friends,” it may raise interest.

• Maine: Individuals 21 years of age or older may possess up to 2.5 ounces (70 grams) of marijuana. That’s double the amount permitted by other states. However, although the legalization has been approved, the current governor repeatedly interferes with its implementation. It remains to be seen how developing regulations will address purchasing for a friend.

• Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission allows you to purchase the permited amount of marijuana for a friend who is 21 years or more. The purchaser can then be reimbursed by the friend for the purchase price and no more.

Massachusetts has a provision under which, without a financial transaction, you can gift a certain amount of marijuana. The provision does not determine the number of “friends” but allows for distribution among a pool of recipients so long as the purchase and carry do not exceed state limits. The current limit for possession is one ounce where no more than five grams can be a concentrate.

• Michigan: The law allows delivery of 2.5 ounces by a person 21 years or older to someone 21 years or older without receiving remuneration, the most generous of state regulations.

The law allows "giving away or otherwise transferring [2.5 ounces] without remuneration.”

Because Michigan dispensaries have yet to open, some unscrupulous folks have taken advantage of the law’s phrasing to “gift” cannabis. They sell inane and low-cost items with an added “gift” at high prices.

• Nevada: Like Alaska, the Nevada population is widely scattered well beyond its major population center at Las Vegas. Helping those at a distance, you can legally gift as much as .50 ounces of concentrates or a full ounce of flower to a friend. The “friend” must be of legal age (21), but your friend cannot legally reimburse you back for the purchase.

• Oregon: Cannabis is regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission which allows the purchase, possession, and delivery to a friend. However, the customer cannot charge the friend any “consideration” for making the buy and delivery. The friend can reimburse you for the purchase price, but you are not permitted to act as a reseller.

The regulations permit possession of one ounce of cannabis on your person and repeated purchases are permitted if your total possession eight ounces of usable marijuana at home does not exceed eight ounces. Again, single or occasional transactions won’t raise concerns, but repeated deliveries could raise red flags.

• Vermont: Effective in mid-2018, Vermont relieved penalties for purchase and possession of cannabis. The legislature has not enthusiastically or aggressively enabled or empowered the medical or recreational marijuana economy. But it does permit possession and gifting of one ounce of cannabis to a friend.

• Washington: Washington State officials hold the purchase and delivery to a friend would violate the delivery of controlled substances. Washington currently prohibits all forms of cannabis delivery.

The delivery ranks as a felony, but it’s not likely the crime would be prosecuted if it, indeed, were a single or occasional practice. Any criminal charge would depend on the circumstances and circumstances.

Washington, D.C.: The nation’s capital permits personal possession of up to two ounces of product and the gifting of one ounce to a friend when “neither money nor goods or services are exchanged.”

Your takeaway?

Most state laws have not specifically addressed the idea of buying cannabis for a friend. But experience will change their minds. Whether legal or not, it appears you can buy cannabis for a friend who is of age and with who there is no financial exchange other than reimbursement for the purchase price. Regulations will eliminate the gifting for profit loopholes and may insist that “gifting” is compensation free.