A caregiver picks out a marijuana bud for a patient at a marijuana dispensary in Denver. (Ed Andrieski, Associated Press file)

This Weed on Wheels marijuana delivery service says it’s legal — but actually it’s not

A 'donation' to cover that marijuana delivery? What a deal! Or not.

Marijuana delivery services are certainly a thing — just ask those who have invested in Canary, Nestdrop, Eaze, Meadow and Nugg.

But are these services a legal thing? In Colorado? Or elsewhere?

For the most part, legal cannabis delivery in American cities is still a distant dream. Sure, Manhattan and its boroughs have one of the world’s most complex systems of bike messengers delivering marijuana and other drugs — but those sales are illegal. Even the slick-and-modern apps listed above can’t legally be used in any of the U.S.’s legal recreational cannabis markets.

As Buzzfeed reported last year, “marijuana delivery remains illegal in all four of the states that have passed laws legalizing recreational weed — Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska — as well as in Los Angeles, the nation’s largest cannabis market.”

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon the website for Weed on Wheels, a so called “24-hour dispensary” and “delivery service” based in Colorado. (Update: The website has since been taken down, but check out the screengrab below.) If you call or text their number, 303-249-1107, they will deliver “your favorite flowers, edible brands, hash, wax, concentrates and beverages” to your Denver or Boulder “home, work or even at a hotel,” according to its website.

Now that’s service.

But even those who have a passing familiarity with Colorado’s first-of-its-kind retail cannabis market can likely tell that something is amiss with Weed on Wheels’ website. The site’s design is haphazardly thrown together, and its text ignores the rules of even basic grammar.

Of course that didn’t stop me from calling Weed on Wheels as soon as I landed on their page.

A gentlemen answered the phone, “Weed on Wheels.” I said hello and introduced myself as a writer for The Denver Post and The Cannabist. He greeted me back warmly.

“I just found your website,” I told him, “and I’m just wondering how you guys legally deliver weed?”

A screengrab from Weed on Wheels' website before it was taken down. (weedonwheels303.com)
A screengrab from Weed on Wheels’ website before it was taken down. (weedonwheels303.com)

I anticipated getting hung up on at this point, as that’s what typically happens when you identify yourself as a reporter in these kinds of situations, but instead he answered candidly: “We’re doing it on a donation basis — for gas, time and delivery. Kinda like they do it on Craigslist.”

At that point, my mind instantly flipped back to a May 2015 column written by cannabis expert Susan Squibb, who answered the age-old question, “Are Craigslist marijuana sales legal in Colorado?” in her regular Ask the Cannabist column. I remembered the answer being “a resounding no,” according to marijuana law and criminal defense attorney Lauren Davis.

But back to my phone call, I still had more questions for this weed delivery man.

“So are you delivering product that you guys grow yourselves?” I asked.

And then he got nervous. And he turned the questioning on me.

“Who did you say you are again? … Who do you work for? … I think you’d better talk with my manager. … Can you give me your supervisor’s name and phone number? I think my manager will want that information.”

I told him who I was and who I worked for, again. I gave him my number and reminded him that it should have shown up on his cell phone when I called. He said he’d pass my number and questions along to his manager, and we said goodbye.

An hour later, I still hadn’t heard back from his manager — not that I honestly expected to. But I did hear back from the Denver Police Department’s office of public information.

“The easiest rule of thumb to remember is: There’s no legal online marketplace for marijuana in Colorado,” DPD spokesperson Doug Schepman told me. “Conducting transfers of marijuana under the pretense of a donation doesn’t make it legal. That’s still an illegal transaction for the sellers and the buyers.”

Attorney Davis was right: “The only people who can sell cannabis are licensed dispensaries or a caregiver who provides it to a patient in accordance with the voluminous state rules and regulations.” Davis said she has “had criminal cases where the client tried to trade something on Craigslist for cannabis.”

And what happened in those cases?

“They were charged with felony distribution of marijuana,” Davis said.

It all comes down to the donation, Davis added. A donation ultimately equals remuneration in the eyes of the law.

“It is legal for adults to give away up to an ounce of cannabis ‘without remuneration.’ Remuneration includes any compensation or trade,” Davis said, “so in other words, you can gift it to someone when that transfer is not part of a tit-for-tat exchange. Otherwise you are in violation of the criminal law.”