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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)

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 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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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

6 replies on “No, Accepting Art Donations for Marijuana Is Not Legal”

  1. Hey, this is Adam Zimmerli. The man pictured actually purchased the painting. He is not a member of the cannabis club. Furthermore, the state hasn’t made a determination on this case and it will be developing over the next year to two years…. Ultimately it is up to a jury of our peers to determine wether or not our actions were legal.

    There’s a lot more to this story than what the main stream media has given you here, I am available for interviews.

    1. Hey Adam,

      Thanks for the note. I corrected the caption; I was confused by your caption of the photo on Facebook. I hope I acknowledged the haziness of the situation — I’ve researched this topic before as well.

  2. It’s easy to say that it’s “not legal” but interestingly, there are countless other ads in Denver newspapers advertising “free pot with purchase of pipe” “free pot with entry fee to concert” and “free pot to fix your washer/dryer” – all long-running ads that have not been prosecuted. How is that different than accepting a donation? Basically what people need to understand is that it’s not clear what’s legal and what’s not.
    Oh and, the address of the place is 530 Santa Fe – It has nothing to do with 420. That’s a silly assumption.

  3. we never tried to profit off of any kind of drug. we just consumed cannabis and gave it to the members of the gallery at the time. just trying to make our community a safer place by giving them a club where they can learn, relax, be healthy and meet people.

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