Store Shut Down For Giving Away Free Marijuana 'Gifts'

By Kelly Burch 03/03/17

The owner of Mary Jane Makes Your Heart Sing was unlicensed and operating the store illegally.

Image: 
Police shutting down Mary Jane Makes Your Heart Sing.
Massachusetts police en route to shut down the illegal operation. Photo via YouTube

Massachusetts police promptly shut down a store that charged a cover fee and then distributed free marijuana to patrons, interrupting the plans of about 50 people who were in line for the store on Wednesday afternoon. 

The store, called Mary Jane Makes Your Heart Sing, charged visitors a $20 cover charge and then provided them with a sample of marijuana or a cannabis edible. For $50, visitors could get three samples, according to MassLive. The store was located in the college town of Springfield, Massachusetts. 

Massachusetts voters approved recreational marijuana last November, and personal possession has been legal in the state since December 15. (Medical marijuana has been legal there since 2013.)

However, selling cannabis without a proper license is still prohibited and violators can be punished with up to two-and-a-half years in jail. The ballot measure that approved marijuana also set the stage for legal dispensaries in Massachusetts, but those will not open until mid-2018. 

The owner of Mary Jane's did not have a license and was operating illegally, according to Springfield Police Sgt. John Delaney. "He can no longer do business like he's doing right now—taking a cover at the door, leaving with a gift of marijuana," Delaney said. "It's not legal in the state to do that. He's not a licensed distributor of marijuana. That's yet to come."

Earlier in the week, police said they were aware of the shop, but were taking time to consult with the district attorney, mayor and attorney general before taking action. "The department was made aware of the possible illegal transactions taking place at Mary Jane's," Delaney said at the time. "We are looking into it and are consulting with the District Attorney's Office and city officials.”

Officials served a cease and desist order to the business owner and the building owner. No criminal charges were filed. 

Residents who were waiting in line when the shop was shut down were frustrated. "I think this is ridiculous. We voted for this law, this is what we did," said Tashawn Moore, a Springfield resident who was turned away after the shop closed. "This is all supposed to be legal.”

Mary Jane's is not the only operation that has sought to side-step the law around marijuana in Massachusetts. In January, a man was busted for selling sandwich bags for $325 on Craigslist, which happened to come with a free gift of one once of marijuana. 

"Disclaimer: I am selling you an empty bag. Marijuana placed in that empty sandwich bag is simply a legal gift, not connected in anyway, to any sale," one ad read.

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

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