Pot shops warned to watch out for ‘smurfs’ and ‘loopers’

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Pot regulators are vowing to crack down on “loopers” and “smurfs” — slang for people who make make multiple purchases of weed products in one day at one store or many.

The state Cannabis Control Commission and state Attorney General Maura Healey’s office said they are looking to create a task force to find ways to blunt the illegal activity.

A multi-agency illicit pot squad would clamp down on, among other things, people who go from dispensary to dispensary buying the maximum allowable amount of pot, with the intent of selling it illegally.

Going from store-to-store is called “smurfing,” and “looping” is when a customer keeps coming back to the same pot shop multiple times in a day.

“The Cannabis Control Commission … is aware of the practice of so-called ‘smurfing’ and has taken steps to protect the legal market and monitor suspicious activity,”  Maryalice Curley, a commission spokeswoman, said in an email.

Curley said under state law, pot shops must report “inventory activity through Massachusetts’ seed-to-sale tracking system” to help thwart smurfs and loopers.

The commission’s adult-use regulations prohibit a marijuana retailer from knowingly selling more than one ounce of marijuana or its dry-weight equivalence to a customer within a single day. And it is unlawful for marijuana to cross state lines.

“Ultimately, enforcement against this violation and other illicit market activity remains the jurisdiction of federal, state and municipal law enforcement agencies,” Curley said.

Smurfing has been a problem for other states as well. In December 2014, the attorneys general of Oklahoma and Nebraska sued Colorado in a U.S. Supreme Court case to roll back the state’s voter-approved laws legalizing marijuana, arguing that police in their states couldn’t keep up with the influx of marijuana that they said was originating from Colorado.

Nebraska and Oklahoma argued that Colorado’s legalization measure was undermining their own “marijuana bans, draining their treasuries and placing stress on their criminal justice systems.” However, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office said smurfing “would certainly be something the multi-agency task force could look into.”

Shrewsbury Republican state Rep. Hannah Kane has filed a bill to target smurfers and loopers and any illegal sale of weed products.

“With the pricing of the legal supply decreasing with ever-increasing availability, the illicit market will by necessity of survival seek to increase the access and sales to youth users,” Kane said, who added the practice will also drive up sales to other states.

By Marie Szaniszlo

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