Colorado Tries to Criminalize Advertising Weed on the Internet

By Victoria Kim 01/27/17

Lawmakers say it’s a necessary step in cracking down on people who don't have a license to sell cannabis.

A keyboard with a marijuana leaf button.

A new bill moving through the Colorado state legislature could mean trouble for those who illegally advertise marijuana online. 

The Unlawful Marijuana Advertising bill was approved unanimously in the Colorado Senate on Monday (Jan. 23). The bill would make it a misdemeanor to advertise cannabis illegally.

Colorado legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2012, but only those with proper licensing can sell cannabis. State Senator Irene Aguilar of Denver, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, said it’s necessary to crack down on unlicensed sellers by criminalizing the act of placing the ad in the first place. “If you don’t have a license to sell marijuana, you may not advertise to sell marijuana,” said Aguilar. The bill would need one more vote in the Senate before it can move on to the House.

It’s a pretty big issue, according to the senator. Aguilar said that in Denver, for example, authorities found over 690 Craigslist postings that advertised marijuana on a single day. Aguilar believes the majority of these sellers do not have the proper license to carry out weed transactions, and were operating within the state’s remaining black market for cannabis.

Upon doing a quick Craigslist search for marijuana in the Denver area, it’s clear that Aguilar wasn’t lying. It’s not at all hard to find people seeking to exchange exotic strains for cash—some try to be slick by asking for “donations” or “tips” instead.

Some of the sellers say they are legal caregivers who grow their own. Others did not write much in their ads, except for a list of strains—Blue Dream, Girl Scout Cookies, Master Kush—and a cryptic phone number. Some sellers even offered “secure, discreet” delivery throughout the United States.

Exchanging weed for “donations” isn’t a legitimate way of avoiding trouble with the law, though—at least in the case of one Oregon man who got busted last October for trying to buy a snowmobile with marijuana through Craigslist.

The seller turned out to be a state trooper and the man was cited for possession and delivery of marijuana, and driving with a suspended license, according to the Oregonian. He had brought 1.5 pounds of marijuana to the transaction. Cannabis is also legal in Oregon for adults 21 and older, but, like in Colorado, sellers must register with the state to do business legally.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr