In Washington, marijuana 'gifts' on the rise

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Pop-up pot shops and cannabis confabs have been on the rise in the nation's capital, as would-be marijuana businesses try to find new ways to engage potential customers since Washington legalized the possession of small amounts of the drug three years ago.

Since the district's Initiative 71 went into effect in 2015, people 21 years and up can possess up to two ounces of pot. It's not O.K. to buy it or sell it, but people can transfer up to one ounce of the drug to another person of age ー a practice known as "gifting."

"We gift all the time, but a lot of people who want to get compensated, they have someone buy something else in exchange," said Lisa Scott, founder of the D.C. marijuana edible company Bud Appetit.

Cannabis businesses sell a legal item such as a t-shirt or jewelry, and then "gift" marijuana to the customer. Scott said in an interview with Cheddar's CannaBiz that these types of exchanges at private events are increasing as consumer demand is on the rise.

Authorities have grown less tolerant. During a pop-up party in January, almost two dozen vendors were arrested and charged with misdemeanor drug possession with the intent to distribute, according to The Washington Post . The charges were soon dropped by prosecutors.

"The laws are going to change, and eventually they will open the doors to more recreational sales and we want to be ready for when it happens," said Scott, who earlier this year started the D.C. Cannabis Business Association. "We don't want people with deep pockets and money from other states to come in and take our customers."

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