Opinion

No, Accepting Art Donations for Marijuana Is Not Legal

530 Gallery owners Adam Zimmerli and Devon Hawk Hazard (Screen capture from CBS)
530 Gallery owners Adam Zimmerli and Devon Hawk Hazard (Screen capture from CBS)

In a surprising new business model for art galleries, a space named 530 Art & Upcycle on Santa Fe Boulevard in Denver, Colorado, was caught offering free marijuana to anyone who donated to the gallery, reports CBS.

Gallery 530 in Denver (Screen capture from CBS)
Gallery 530 in Denver (Screen capture from CBS)

Despite the fact that recreational marijuana use was legalized in Colorado last year under the state’s Amendment 64, the gallery’s actions turned out to be totally illegal. Amendment 64 makes it possible for marijuana consumers to grow a small amount of cannabis and give it away up to an ounce to friends for free, but it’s very difficult to actually sell the plant to non-medical users. The first recreational marijuana retail outlets have yet to be certified by the government.

That means that weed aficionados have been finding their own ways to profit from the drug. 530 Art & Upcycle founders Adam Zimmerli and Devon Hawk Hazard advertised on Craigslist that their art space offered “high grade marijuana, free with a donation to the gallery,” an operation that they called the Cannabis Club of Denver. In a sting operation, “vice and narcotics officers received hundreds of dollars of pot with marked money put into a jar marked ‘Donations,’” CBS writes. Sadly, sticking money in a donations jar does not be that it is suddenly legal and unrelated to giving away weed.

A Gallery 530 owner with his painting (Image via Gallery 530's Facebook)
A Gallery 530 collector (Image via Gallery 530’s Facebook)

“We didn’t sell marijuana to anyone, we never distributed marijuana, we did have a private marijuana club,” Zimmerli later said. The problem is that while legal club operations have popped up to foster the collective consumption of marijuana, the practice has to be unrelated to exchanging money for the actual plant. Woops.

The 530 gallery’s Facebook page doesn’t advertise marijuana, but it does list a painting party for just $40. The space appears to be a harmless arts and crafts center, with one owner displaying a fairly stoneriffic canvas of a very red-eyed woman. Though the club has ceased to exist, the gallery continues operations.

Turns out, the fact that 530’s name is two numbers removed from 420 wasn’t a coincidence. Maybe their exhibitions could be a stop on Colorado’s new business of marijuana tour packages?

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