On Dec. 22, 2015, Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department arrested Nicholas Cunningham and Evonne Lidoff for misdemeanor distribution of marijuana, through Kush Gods, Cunningham’s enterprise that exchanges marijuana for donations.
When the District’s voters passed Initiative 71, limited possession and cultivation of marijuana became legal. And while the retail sale of marijuana wasn’t legalized, the law enabled individuals to transfer up to one ounce of marijuana to another person.
The word “transfer” has opened up a “grow and give” system in D.C., which is the system within which Kush Gods is attempting to operate.
Donation or Transaction?
Kush Gods has a fleet of luxury of vehicles plastered with contact information and images of marijuana. The vehicles travel through the District’s busiest neighborhoods, including Chinatown, Adams Morgan and U Street, trading marijuana-related products for donations.
According to The Washington Post, Metropolitan Police started investigating Kush Gods this past October after receiving complaints of Cunningham’s vehicles acting as hubs for flagrant marijuana sales.
Alexander Pe, general counsel at the Medical Marijuana Advocates Group, told the DCist, “In actuality, a mandatory donation is a payment for goods … . It’s plainly a financial transaction. It’s illegal. It’s unfortunate, but that’s how it is. The only actual legal sales have to come from a medical dispensary.”
Legal Retail Sales Not in Sight
While President Barack Obama signed a federal spending bill on Dec. 18 that prevents the Department of Justice from spending funds to block state-legal medical marijuana programs and participants, the bill also included the previously approved rider introduced by Maryland Rep. Andy Harris, preventing the District from using funds to regulate retail marijuana sales.
“Marijuana is now legal for adults in the District of Columbia, and it needs to be treated like a legal product,” said Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “It is irrational to prohibit D.C. officials from establishing a regulatory system to control the cultivation and distribution of marijuana. By renewing the Harris Amendment, Congress is posing a real threat to public health and safety in our nation’s capital.”
The Kush Gods Return
On Dec. 22, Cunningham and Lidoff pleaded not guilty on misdemeanor distribution of marijuana, and are scheduled to return to court for a hearing on Jan. 28, 2016.
Cunningham and Lidoff seem undaunted, as Kush Gods tweeted on Dec. 23, “We’ll be back open on Saturday! Enjoy your holiday!” To keep up appearances, Kush Gods later tweeted on Dec. 27, “If you plan on making a donation in the future, make sure you have your I.D. ready!”