Arizona One can find fertile ground for problems selling Pot Seeds online
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A Navajo County man stopped selling cannabis seeds on the Internet after he concluded that media interviews and social media advertising could end badly for him.
Michael Moss told the Phoenix New Times in December that, after consulting a prepaid legal service, he had found a loophole that allowed him to sell pot seeds as “souvenirs”. The New Times spoke to a veteran cannabis lawyer and postal authorities who disagreed, but Moss – who has degenerative disc disease and started his business as a means of helping other patients – made progress and promoted his website as “One Of The Largest Seed.” Banks In “The USA.”
The site has gone dark in recent weeks, and Moss’ local paper, the White Mountain Independent, speculated that the long arm of postal law may have finally caught up with him.
Moss was reached on Monday by the New Times and said it was not. He’s a free man, still lives on Show Low, and hasn’t heard from the government. He decided to pause the website because the items and additional advertisements he’d bought had made things “too hot”.
“It’s still a narcotic that I planned on. That’s what they come after people for. I’m here to warn people “that they can get into trouble,” he said.
However, this was also the case in November. So: what has changed?
Moss said he spoke to a new attorney who told him he had no protection under the recently passed marijuana legalization initiative. He also believes the marijuana industry is out to get him.
“I’ve really made myself known … they’re going to set an example for someone and I don’t want anyone to be me,” he said.
Some of the seed packets Moss sells.
Courtesy of Michael Moss
Moss’ paranoia is not unjustified. Tom Dean, a former legal director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law (NORML) who has practiced cannabis law for over 20 years, told the New Times in December that law enforcement could potentially face pressures from the cannabis industry against unlicensed laws go ahead breeders and avoid a freedom for all when the legal market is established.
Moss recently attended an online seminar and asked Dean about his business. When Dean repeated the same general advice – that the program was a bad idea and law enforcement would monitor social media and make small purchases to build a case against sellers – Moss took it to heart. Moss said that based on Dean’s response and the fact that the Arizona Marijuana Industry Trade Association liked his social media posts and increased their visibility, he believed he would be set up.
“I’m the hottest Instagram site out there,” he said. “You have to watch me.”
Dean doesn’t deny that authorities may be monitoring Moss, but he said he was not aware of any conspiracy to put Moss down, other than the obvious danger Moss put himself in by openly promoting his business, which is a controlled substance sold across national borders.
“I’m glad he reconsidered it, and I just hope it’ll be soon enough to avoid possible consequences,” said Dean.
In December, Liz Davis, a spokeswoman for the Phoenix Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service, stated that selling controlled substances through the mail, including seeds, was a federal crime. She said the service would conduct further investigation if New Times provided Moss’ name and contact information – which New Times declined.
Davis told the New Times that the agency was not involved in closing the site.
“Perhaps he received good legal advice regarding the legality of using US mail on such a product?” She speculated in a separate statement to the White Mountain Independent.
Moss said he was frustrated that the only way to move forward legally was to partner with one of the pharmacies that had monopolyed on legalization, but he decided to stick to the rules. He is currently in talks with a number of pharmacies to see if they will get him on board and legitimize his growing seeds for sale in the state.
“We’ll be back very soon,” he said. “To a pharmacy near you. Legally.”
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Erasmus Baxter is a contributor to the Phoenix New Times.