Michigan Company Sells Books, Gifts Marijuana, In Legal Gray Area

By Kelly Burch 02/21/19

Blaze Michigan's book bundles come with a special "edible" gift.

people purchasing books at Michigan company.

While marijuana users in Michigan must wait for legal marijuana shops to open their doors, one store has found a clever workaround—gifting marijuana edibles to people who purchase book bundles. 

Blaze Michigan sells bundles of books, which can be picked up in person or delivered. Consumers purchase the books, and if they are 21 or older they’ll receive a free gift. With bundle names like the Brownie Edible Book Bundle ($65), Full Vape Book Bundle ($90) and Mary Jane Flower Books ($80), it's easy to guess what the free gift might be. 

“You’re buying gifts, and then the gift is unknown. We try to hint at what the gift is going to be, by how we name our book bundles,” Blaze Michigan owner Stephanie Swearengin told WSBT 22

The bundles are a big hit, Swearengin said. “Pretty much demand has been hard to keep up with for the most part.”

Michigan became the first midwestern state to legalize recreational cannabis in 2018, but until shops begin opening in 2020, there are no outlets to legally purchase marijuana.

Swearengin believes she has found a workaround, as she explained on Blaze Michigan’s website. 

“We’ve talked to multiple lawyers about the issue and as far as we can tell it’s just a large gray area,” she said. “Just like medical dispensaries. I mean with the state and the federal law, it’s already a gray area. Even though medical marijuana has been legal, they can still get shut down by the feds. So if you ask me it’s all kind of gray.”

However, Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz was not convinced that Blaze Michigan’s business model is legal. “People engaging in this activity are definitely subjecting themselves to potential prosecution.”

Despite the semantics, the intent of businesses like Blaze Michigan is clear, Fitz said. 

“Certainly when you’re gifting marijuana as part of the incentive of a transaction, that can very easily be interpreted that you are doing it for profit,” he said. “It’s wise for people to follow the law. Tread softly and be cautious. The step you make may end up in causing you to be in court resulting in a civil infraction, a misdemeanor, or even a felony conviction.”

In 2017, a Massachusetts store was shut down for charging an admission free and then distributing free marijuana gifts to consumers. Recreational marijuana had been legalized in the state, but shops that could legally sell pot were not yet open. 

"He can no longer do business like he's doing right now—taking a cover at the door, leaving with a gift of marijuana," the local police chief said at the time. "It's not legal in the state to do that. He's not a licensed distributor of marijuana. That's yet to come."

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.