Feb 22, 2013 1:28 AM by Eric Ross
Marijuana users are getting creative when it comes to getting their hands on pot. They're using web sites like Craigslist to trade merchandise for marijuana.
Plug in "marijuana" on Craigslist and a laundry list of postings will appear. People are looking to trade anything and everything from cell phones to kitchen appliances, even a car!
It's called bartering---and local law enforcement agencies admit they aren't quite sure how to handle this type of transaction.
Just how common is this practice? News 5 conducted a sting operation to find out.
We first contacted a man wanted to trade a printer for weed. We informed him we didn't have any marijuana but were willing to pay cash instead.
He agreed to meet at a gas station off 8th Street near Cimarron and after paying for the printer, News 5 began asking questions.
News 5: "I saw on Craigslist you were looking to trade for pot?"
Seller: "Yes I was. Dude, you don't have any on you do you?"
News 5: "No, I don't. Have you traded for pot before?"
Seller: "All the time. I do all the time."
Is bartering for pot legal? For that answer, we went to Denver to meet with the executive director for the Department of Revenue.
"The medical marijuana enforcement division is under my department's purview," Barbara Brohl said.
The agency is now working with a Colorado marijuana task force group to create guidelines for marijuana use. Those guidelines are then sent off to the legislature.
However, when we asked Brohl about enforcement for trading pot, we didn't get very far.
"I will tell you that will not be addressed through the regulatory model with the Department of Revenue," she said.
News 5 asked, "So who can provide us with an answer?"
Brohl replied, "I don't know if there's an answer to that question because I don't think there is a regulatory model or legal model that supports that."
For further explanation on the law, we were advised to talk with local law enforcement.
"The current criminal statutes don't really discuss bartering or trading for marijuana right now," Chief Pete Carey said.
It's something the seller involved in our undercover sting believes he knows all about.
"They (police) haven't figured out the selling and buying rules of it all," he said. "It's not illegal. It's legal now so I don't have any hesitation at all. Type 'marijuana' on Craigslist and all my ads will pop up. I've traded a bunch of things with no trouble at all."
A man living at the Cedar Ridge Apartments in Colorado Springs hasn't had any trouble trading for pot either. In our second sting, this individual wanted to trade a pair of television speakers for $20 in cash and $20 in marijuana. Disappointed we didn't have any weed, he still agreed to close the deal with $40 cash.
He too wasn't afraid to speak his mind about trading for pot.
"I'm a 46-year-old vet," he said. "I don't care what they (police and law enforcement) say. I'll smoke my weed brother."
He even taunts police.
"They can give me all the tickets they want," he said. "I don't care. I smoke weed out in the parking lot and the cop would drive by and say, 'Are you staying out of trouble?' I'd say 'We sure are.'"
While marijuana users may be able to slip through the cracks on a local level, there's federal laws prohibiting marijuana that are enforced by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"We are going to investigate that to the full extent that we can," Matthew Barden with the DEA said. "It's a violation of federal law and state law is not going to deter us from doing our job."
Barden also adds that trading or giving marijuana is considered distribution.
Although there's a big "gap" when it comes to local laws, Chief Carey says change is on its way.
"What the City is doing right now is waiting to see what guidance the State of Colorado gets regarding the sale and use of marijuana," he said. "Of course when we have a new city council in April, we'll be presenting some proposals on how we deal with recreational marijuana."
The District Attorney's office declined to comment on this story and suggested we speak with Attorney General John Suthers.
Suthers also declined to comment on our story but after a week, decided to send News 5 a one sentence statement.
"Distribution of marijuana in exchange for donations or other items is a scam in an attempt to get around laws before the implementation of Amendment 64 laws."
Stay with News 5 and KOAA.com for updates on this story.
If you have a story or problem you'd like News 5 to investigate, email Eric Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org