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Entrepreneur Eyes Cannabis “Gifting” Business Model for Michigan

An entrepreneur from Massachusetts has brought cannabis “gifting” to Michigan, which legalized but has yet to deploy a legal market, according to The Detroit Free Press.

Commercial cannabis products are not expected to be available in Michigan before 2020. Typically, such “gifting” business models pop up in regions that have decriminalized or legalized cannabis but have not yet provided a regulated, commercial marketplace.

Currently, Detroit-based shoppers can visit the High Road online store to buy snacks or a t-shirt for $55 to $120. Once the purchase goes through, the service will provide — either via delivery or pick-up — the product alongside, as a gift, a legal quantity of cannabis. In Michigan, adults who are 21 or older can legally possess and gift to another adult up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis.

High Road was founded by Brandon Anthony, a Virginia native now living in Massachusetts. The business also operates in Boston, Massachusetts and Washington D.C.

“Michigan has been on our radar since last year. With all the legal and licensing fees, we couldn’t afford [applying for a license], so we figured out a legal loophole. And I have an attorney that tells me all the legal loopholes are covered.” — Brandon Anthony, Owner of High Road, via Detroit Free Press.

Regulators in Massachusetts and Michigan say the business plan is an obvious, thinly-veiled attempt to circumvent licensing laws and, “appears to not fit the spirit of the law.” It’s still unknown, however, exactly what enforcement, if any, will follow.

East Lansing-based attorney and cannabis activist Jeffrey Hank said, “If you read the law, you’re not supposed to receive any remuneration for the marijuana you give away. Trying to disguise a transfer as a gift is not advised. People should be very careful before they do something like that. It’s untested waters.”

Anthony said he hasn’t spoken to city or state officials. He is, however, optimistic about his endeavor.

“Licensing takes so long to happen and I have this other company in place until my licensing comes through,” he told The Detroit Free Press. “I think this is the gray area that I can maneuver.”

Michigan voters elected to legalize cannabis last month. The new rules took effect on December 6.

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