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Weeding it out: Are those trucks in New Orleans really selling marijuana?

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – The bright green vans plastered with colorful images of marijuana, and iconic cartoon characters like Shaggy and Scooby-Doo with bloodshot eyes, and signage boasting “Over a Million Stoned” may seem out of place in a state where recreational marijuana is illegal, but for years, they’ve made a home in and around the French Quarter.

“We sell lollipops, gummies, Rice Krispie treats, brownies, popcorn – if you can eat it, we can weed it,” said Ski Scott, who was selling the products from a van in downtown New Orleans.

The vehicles are often covered with images of Pineapple Express, Gorilla Glue and Grand Daddy Purp – which are all street names for pot – so for some, it’s not much of a leap to guess what the folks in the vans and trucks are pushing.

“Dope, marijuana, you know. They’re selling marijuana,” said Jeff Conklin, who was visiting from Georgia.

With names like Trippy Treats and Space Cakes boldly describing the products on display and for sale, some people expect the stuff to get them high, but if you ask one the people who sell it, she says guess again.

“People come up all the time and ask for marijuana, but our vehicle is simply a freedom of speech, so of course they have marijuana on the vehicle,” Scott said. “No marijuana in the vehicle, no marijuana in the vehicle, no.”

But that explanation still doesn’t stick with some visitors confused by the blatant advertising that includes images of and references to a product that is illegal for recreational use in Louisiana.

“I don’t know, but it’s treating it like candy so that sort of caters to the kids. I don’t like them calling it candy. That’s just like advertising. Supposedly it was catered toward the young people,” said Don Arledge, who was visiting from Tennessee.

Still, Scott, who was actively selling brownies and Rice Krispie treats from one of the vans, claimed that’s just marketing, and the stuff inside the products is much more benign than THC-laden pot.

“It’s CBD, it’s CBD products, yeah, it’s the stuff they take out the THC. It’s real good for you, for your pain, whatever’s going on with you,” Scott said.

CBD, or cannabidiol, isn’t illegal like its cousin THC. In fact, states across the country allow sales of CBD over the counter, and it’s even for sale in stores in New Orleans.

“You know, when I saw the truck yesterday, I just thought, well this is one of the states where it’s legal,” said Dave Gabbert, who was visiting from Colorado.

It’s a perception that some think could take advantage of out-of-towners looking for weed.

“That didn’t, it didn’t cross my mind though, that it wouldn’t be real [weed],” said Cathy Gabbert from Colorado.

But we wanted to know how the people in the trucks and vans sell their product when visitors approach and when it’s not obvious a camera is rolling. So FOX 8 sent an undercover buyer with a hidden camera to see what would happen.

“Y’all got candies and stuff?” the undercover buyer asked a man sitting in a Weed World van.

“Yeah, we got candies and we got flower as well,” the Weed World salesman in the van says.

In the first interaction, FOX 8’s hidden camera captures the salesman offering “flower,” a word the DEA says is a street name for marijuana.

“So what do y’all sell, just candies?” the under-cover buyer asks.

“We sell candies, flower, I have Pineapple Express gummies, I have cotton candy gummies and I have Rice Krispie treats, and Cap’n Crunch. Rice Krispie treats and Cap’n Crunch are 80mg of THC in each treat. Those are twenty, yeah, for one Rice Krispie treat,” the Weed World Salesman said.

The salesman offers a small Rice Krispie treat packaged in a sealed bag for $20 and claims there is 80mg of THC in the product.

Dr. Kent Hutchison, a professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder, said if in fact the treat contains 80mg of THC, that would be a much higher dose than a casual user could handle.

“Five to 10 milligrams is really the max that you would want to use. Eighty milligrams, for a lot of people, is gonna make them very uncomfortable and very unhappy,” Hutchison said.

“That’s the Rice Krispie treat, it’s 80mg of THC,” the Weed World salesman said as he showed the buyer the product.

“And I can’t buy that from you here?” the under-cover buyer asked.

“Yes! That’s the reason why we ride around with them!” the Weed World salesman said.

But according to the city, that’s just not true.

“The permit that they have does not authorize them to do any sales from any vehicles or anything on the street,” said Director of New Orleans Department of Safety and Permits Zachary Smith.

Smith said Weed World does have an occupational license to operate a brick-and-mortar store on Chartres Street in the French Quarter.

Inside that location, clerks wear white lab coats and the windows are embellished with what looks like pot plants, but any sales for their vehicles is considered a violation.

“What do you recommend I try, gummies or…” the under-cover buyer asks.

“It depends on if you’re looking to get high, or you’re looking to get medicated,” the Weed World salesman said. “I have Rice Krispie, I have Cap’n Crunch, I have brownies, too.”

“Rice Krispie treat is fine,” the under-cover buyer said.

“Twenty bucks,” the Weed World salesman said as our under-cover buyer handed him the money.

At another van parked on Bourbon Street, our undercover buyer purchased four lollipops for $20, but the saleswoman in the van insisted it only contained CBD, not THC.

The city says State Police testing of the treats and candies haven’t found illegal substances in the candy. Smith said under Mayor Latoya Cantrell, the city is cracking down on what is potentially a scam targeting tourists.

“I think there’s a little bit taking advantage of intoxicated or leaving it loosely. Fun-seeking individuals who are in town for conventions and whatnot, but it’s definitely something that I would not purchase or go after, because I know better this is $20 candy when you can go into CVS and buy it for 50 cents,” Smith said.

In fact, while the trucks are sometimes parked just feet away from NOPD units, police are aware of what could be coming out of the vehicles.

“From the NOPD side of things, since the beginning of this year they’ve made, I believe, over or close to 12 arrests or summonses for illegal sales related to marketing things as marijuana, whether or not it has THC,” Smith said.

The NOPD says since January of this year, police have made four arrests and issued 10 summonses for “no occupational license and failure to pay city taxes” to people connected to the “weed candy” sales, and one additional arrest for simple battery when a weed truck vendor allegedly struck another weed truck vendor in the face.

But even after our buyer got the $20 treat, the salesman gave him another option.

“I have 3.5 grams of weed. of smoking bud, going for $50. Yeah, that’s exactly what it is, but it’s Purple Kush,” the Weed World salesman offered as our under-cover completed the sale and walked away.

Smoking bud, lollipops, a Rice Krispie treat – all illegally offered right out of the window of at vehicle in the French Quarter. If you’ve got the cash, buyer beware.

“A twenty-dollar lollipop? Tells you it should have marijuana in it,” Conklin said before he was asked, what if the treat didn’t contain THC? “Wow, you’re ripped off. That’s a pretty expensive lollipop,” Conklin said.

We spoke with the owner of Weed World, Bilal Muhammad, who said he has fired people in the past who were caught illegally selling products and offering marijuana from their vehicles. He claimed he’s tried to keep the company’s name clear and said the people who were selling from the street will be fired and potentially arrested.

Copyright 2019 WVUE. All rights reserved.

The bright green vans plastered with colorful images of marijuana and iconic cartoon characters, like Shaggy and Scooby-Doo with blood shot eyes, and signage boasting, “Over a Million Stoned,” may seem out of place in a state where recreational marijuana is illegal.

The Definitive Cannabis Travel Guide to New Orleans

New Orleans is the nation’s best example of revelry done right, and it’s been done by millions of people who were hammered on six Hurricanes and three Hand Grenades at a time. But, in my opinion, far too few people have done New Orleans while tingling on a summery sativa or floating on an indica-induced cloud. On a New Orleans marijuana-influenced excursion, the jazz sounds better than ever before. You’re hungry enough to house all the jambalaya, gumbo, po-boys, and beignets that cross your path. The perma-smile on your face fits right in with the ones all the locals wear, and your frame of mind is as laid-back and uplifted as the city that surrounds you.

It makes little sense that cannabis has yet to be legalized in the Big Easy. That said, liberal-leaning New Orleans is leading Louisiana toward increased medical access, decriminalization, and overall acceptance of the plant. Ordinance 31,148 took effect in the city on June 21, decriminalizing cannabis possession to allow law enforcement to focus on more pressing issues. While NOLA isn’t as cannabis-friendly as Seattle, Denver, or Portland, there are plenty of things for cannabis lovers to love here – food, music, and good vibes among them.

New Orleans Vitals

Cannabis legality: Medical (but no system set up for sale)

Population: 378,715

Nicknames: NOLA, The Big Easy, Crescent City

Claim to fame: Mardi Gras

For the record: Ordinance 31,148 took effect in New Orleans last week, decriminalizing cannabis possession in the city (you can still receive a fine of between $40 and $100, as you can for public consumption in fully legalized states). However, officers technically have the option of enforcing Louisiana state law if they so choose, so be aware that you’re still consuming at your own risk.

Day One

At 4:20 p.m., you are: Checking into your room at the Q&C (short for The Queen & Crescent), tucked between the historic French Quarter and the avant-garde Warehouse/Arts District.

This boutique hotel boasts pet-friendly rooms, flat-screen TVs, amiable concierge, and the Q&C Bar (which has one of the best happy hours in the city). Plus, it’s walkable to everything you’ll want to do in the French Quarter while you’re here.

Vacation motto: Per the Q&C website: “Anything that is worth doing, is worth overdoing.”

At 5:00 p.m., you’re taking advantage of: The fact that it’s five o’clock somewhere (namely, right here).

Stroll through the French Quarter (gawping at the elegant old Creole townhouses along the way) over to the French Market, where you’ll find Organic Banana, a stand that serves up the best blended drinks in the Quarter. You’re ordering a Flaming Monkey (Bacardi, banana, Irish cream, coconut cream) and you’re taking it to go.

Pro tip: If you happen to have a dropperful of cannabis tincture to add to your to-go cup, so much the better.

What you’re skipping: Bourbon Street. It’s loud, seedy, dirty, and smelly. If you must see the shenanigans for yourself, walk down it on the way to Organic Banana, but no matter what, don’t step in the cloudy, filthy “Bourbon Juice” that fills the gutters. In the words of one local resident, if you do, “you have to cut your foot off.”

At 5:45 p.m., you’re walking: Back to the edge of the Quarter and hopping on the St. Charles Streetcar (with daiquiri in tow).

A mere $1.25 gets you an unbelievable sightseeing tour as the streetcar winds its way along tree-lined St. Charles Avenue past miles of enormous, exquisite mansions. Hop off at Louisiana Avenue and walk six blocks down to Magazine Street, then three blocks up past boutiques, bars, and bistros until you arrive at Ninth.

Word to the wise: Keep your head, phone, and arms inside the car on your ride unless you want to bash them against street signs and lamp posts along the way.

At 6:30 p.m., you are: Walking in the door at The Rum House, but you’re not here for rum – you’re here for the best tacos of your life.

Don’t believe me? Listen to these: Lamb Vindaloo (red curried lamb, mint yogurt chutney, sliced plantains); The Carolina (pulled pork, jalapeño slaw, barbecue sauce, roasted corn relish); Calypso Beef (marinated flank steak, guacamole, lime cream); and Chili Glazed Shrimp (fried, topped with a chili rum glaze with roasted poblano-red pepper relish). Every combination is imaginative (the website even keeps a glossary so you can figure out what ingredients like Scotch bonnet peppers, conch, and “paw paw sauce” are), and furthermore, the Rum House Salad (spinach, sweet potato, beets, pecans, goat cheese, red onion, curry vinaigrette) is the most remarkably delicious salad I’ve ever ordered.

Head’s up: Rum House doesn’t take reservations, so you may have to wait a minute or two (especially if it’s Taco Tuesday). The solution? Grab a cool drink and head outside to mill around and people-watch in the sunshine while your table clears.

At 8:00 p.m., you’re back: In the French Quarter, getting spooked on a dark, meticulously detailed ghost tour of one of the most haunted cities in the world.

Ghoul jokes, wild stories, incredible history, and plenty of hauntings – from voodoo queen Marie Laveau to the victims of murderous Madame Delphine – await you on Haunted History Tours’ French Quarter Ghosts and Legends Tour.

At 10:15 p.m., you are: Shaking off the scariness with some bacchanalia at Bacchanal, one of the best-loved bars in the country. It’s like scoring an invite to a badass backyard party with the locals, where that party includes Christmas lights, plants, laughter, crowds of awesome people, live music every night, and build-your-own cheese plates.

Buy your wine and cheese in the bottle shop up front, grab some glasses by the back door, and take them to the huge backyard garden where you can nab a table, kick your shoes off, and relish everything about your surroundings.

At 12:15 a.m., you are: Soaking up the music on Frenchmen Street.

Jazz is an absolute must while you’re in New Orleans – after all, the genre was born here, and you can find huge names playing tiny venues on any given night. All you really need to do is walk down the street and drop into any place you hear music emanating from, but we recommend The Maison for a series of shows that begin daily at 4:00 p.m. and frequently carry on past 3:00 in the morning.

In our opinion: Given jazz’s tight historic ties to cannabis, the two are best enjoyed together.

Day Two

At 11:00 a.m., you are: Wearing your Sunday best, agonizing over the starters (get the turtle soup), mains (pecan crusted gulf fish? Cochon de lait eggs Benedict?) and desserts (think creole bread pudding soufflé and pecan pie a la mode) on the Jazz Brunch menu at Commander’s Palace.

Since 1893, this iconic establishment has been the uncontested crown jewel among New Orleans’ most exceptional restaurants. Every detail is perfect, from the service, to the plating, to the gentlemen of Joe Simon’s Jazz Trio who come to your table to serenade you. You cannot go wrong with whatever you order – and for a fun surprise, ask for your leftovers to be wrapped to go.

If you’re here on a weekday: Lunch is an equally decadent and classy affair (though note that it begins at 11:30, not 11:00). The signature element? 25-cent martinis.

At 12:15 p.m., you’re headed to: Audubon Park (the St. Charles Streetcar will get you there) to stroll amidst the greenery and feed the crazy birds.

You’ll find ducks, anhingas, herons, egrets, cormorants, and many more colorful specimens at the over-100-year-old rookery by the lagoon – bring birdseed or bread crumbs and they’ll suddenly be your best friends.

Pro tip: This would be a great place to break out a cannabis-infused brownie. Just don’t feed it to the birds!

At 1:15 p.m., you are: Ambling over to the waterfront portion of Audubon Park, known affectionately to locals as The Fly.

Every weekend, families and friends gather here to sip, snack, sunbathe, socialize, and generally enjoy each other’s company on the banks of the mighty Mississipp’. Don’t forget your swimsuit and beach towel.

At 3:00 p.m., you are: Deciding between two museums.

At the edge of the French Quarter, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art ($13.50; closed Tuesdays) represents the largest collection of Southern art in the world – exhibitions include Self-Taught, Outsider and Visionary Art, and Top Mob: A History of New Orleans Graffiti. For something with more of a cannabis bent, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum ($5; closed Sundays and Mondays) showcases a fascinating history going all the way back to questionable practices like bloodletting, leeches, and voodoo potions. The museum is housed in the historic shop of America’s first licensed pharmacist; among other curios, you’ll find antique blown glass prescription jars of cannabis flower, “indica plaster,” and “cigarettes indiennes au cannabis indica.”

At 4:20 p.m., you are: Fueling up for wherever you’re headed next with a true Crescent City coffee fix at Café du Monde.

You’re sitting outside under the green and white striped awning, admiring the bustle of Jackson Square, and ordering beignets and New Orleans-style chicory café au lait ­– there’s a reason everyone else will be doing the same.

New Orleans is a city that embraces celebration – and there’s a lot there for cannabis users to celebrate. Follow our travel guide to learn what they are. ]]>