Some may ask, are delivery services legal in states where cannabis is legal? The answer isn’t always clear cut and dry. Let us enter the gray market of cannabis, where things happen that no politician wants to address.
What is a “Gray market;” is it the same as a “Black market?
Normal classifications show black market activity deals with the banned, counterfeit or stolen items which are sold in the market illegally. Gray market usually deals with the genuine goods that are sold and bought through the unauthorized channel of distribution. Gray market lies somewhere between the black and white markets. It generally deals with the genuine commodities. However, they lack the proper authorization or controlling factors.
In Washington D.C. gifting is how cannabis transactions are conducted (gray market) and recently in Massachusetts it was reported, the state would not interfere with the practice of gifting while the retail shops are still waiting for regulation. Regulation will be good for consumers, if properly placed. Legalizing allows people to be involved in an industry that brings a positive light to cannabis and society. We want people to have safe access to cannabis without the fear of criminal activity, all the while, providing an industry where everyone can flourish.
Some people would like you to think that “delivery” equals “drug dealing,” but this is not necessarily the case. Illegal activity can bring a level of uncertainty and discomfort for most. So why would I purchase from someone who I don’t identify as being trustworthy, especially in Connecticut where I have access to quality medicine? Then someone brings up the cost difference… now I understand why some people would want to look elsewhere than the dispensary/grower model.
Is greed the driving factor causing patients to look for alternatives? Is it greed, that is pushing the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) to amend the state law to mandate patients not only use the dispensary/grower model, but then threatens to take your access away if you deem to purchase elsewhere? It would be easy for someone to draw those conclusions. Let’s not mention the DCP wants patients to keep all medicine in the original containers, so it’s easier to police not to the benefit the patient.
Let me start by saying not all delivery services are the same. Some can be more reputable than others, but please do not ask for recommendations.
How They Operate
When the State of Connecticut legalized medical cannabis, there were no established dispensaries or grow facilities within the state. This meant the law needed to state that patients could procure by any means to obtain the medicine they needed. This little stipulation still exists in the state law today. It is this clause that also allowed for a “Do not ask, do not tell” activity for growers to obtain the strains we have in the program now and how the program can still continue to grow. But where do the seeds come from? No one asks, not even the state. I understand this type of activity keeps growers from admitting they have violated federal law. So if this type of policy is acceptable to growers, why couldn’t it be applied elsewhere?
Recently, we met with a delivery service called PiffKings to discuss how they operate. I was excited by the knowledge and compassion in their voices. It was the same drive and expertise I experienced when meeting both growers and dispensaries in the past. There was the desire to help people. A medical program should be based on patients, not money. There is an environment where we can all make money and that’s called legalization.
The delivery services are operating in a similar regard as to the growers within the state. Honestly, PiffKings appeared to be following more laws then one would initially think. They are legally licensed and registered caregivers throughout the northeast region. They operate hubs in states where cannabis is legal. Since the drivers are patients and caregivers themselves, there is the desire to help others in need. Like state growers, the information as to where the cannabis is procured is not shared.
As a Connecticut MMP patient, you are allowed to carry on your person 2.5 ounces of cannabis at any given time. It is normally thought, that patients can only obtain 2.5 ounces a month, but this is not completely true. It is most-likely that 2.5 ounces is your monthly allotment. However, a patient with cancer, can not receive the proper dosing needed with only 2.5 ounces per month. At times some patients may require upward to 3,000mg of cannabis or more daily. Just imagine the cost associated to a cancer treatment with that type of daily intake requirements. Let’s just say, no one is smoking that much in a day.
As a state-licensed caregiver in Connecticut, the licensed individual is allowed to possess 5 ounces of cannabis. This person is also allowed to drive and deliver medicine to a patient. Technically, deliver services are operating within the established law, if they possess the proper licensing and hold no more than the legal amount to possess. If patient identification is required and clearly stated in order to complete the gift exchange, there should be no reason why one would think anything illegal is occurring. We have seen state growers in the past, blatantly disregard state laws, get caught, and still they continue to operate.
With testing being a concern for some, I was surprised to see upon request, testing results were provided. Some could argue the legitimacy of the testing results, but do you honestly believe the testing results are always accurate within the state program. Previously in California, the state had an issue with the regulation of testing facilities and was faced with a “pay for results” phenomenon. Meaning, if a grower didn’t like the presented results, they simply paid more and had the sample “re-tested.” Not everyone has access to a testing facility, but if you were honestly concerned, there is this great device called MyDx. Look it up, it’s expensive, but this little device can show you who is embellishing their results.
These are just some reasons why delivery services in Connecticut fall into the classification of a gray market. They operating within the state law, but not in the confines of the intended purpose. Are delivery services the danger, some politicians would like you to believe? From this experience, I would say no. Are the suggested amendments to the program attempting to close loopholes in the system for the patient benefit or solely to benefit the organizations who operate within the program? Only time will tell.
Any attempts to shut down delivery by instilling some of the proposed amendments will only hurt the patient base. Restricting the supply of medicine allows for the program to keep prices higher than recreational and or blackmarket prices. If the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) amends the law to require patients to only use the dispensary model, it would be interesting to see if Connecticut patients file a class-action suit against the State of Connecticut and the DCP. Let’s not forget monopolies and oligopolies are also illegal in this country, you should not care if the state calls it a program or anything else. Corrective policy is not going to work in the case of medical cannabis. Legalization and regulation is the best way to proceed into the future.