PlantChek
PlantChek

On Moratoriums, Legal Pot Sales and the Death of a Dealer

Mark Chafant was killed over a bag of weed in a Taco Bell parking lot in Colorado. Could his death have been prevented?

It's taken a year and a half for Aurora, Colorado to get with the state's new marijuana-selling program. Aurora, like a number of Colorado cities, only just recently decided to start accepting applications for recreational pot shop licenses (that began on July 1). Instead of joining Denver and other cities in the green rush to sell legal cannabis to adults for non-medical purposes, Aurora decided to to sit it out for the last six months. Local dealers got a reprieve and the black market continued to thrive.

On June 4, 19-year-old Mark Chafant was found dead in an Aurora Taco Bell parking lot. Three teens have been arrested and charged with first-degree murder. It's alleged that they planned to rip off Chafant, who was there to sell them $180 worth of marijuana. Had Aurora allowed for retail stores to open in January rather than watch and wait, maybe he'd be alive today.

Had Aurora not balked on legal marijuana sales, it's possible Mark Chafant wouldn't have been in that parking lot on the night in question

I know recreational marijuana is for adults only. So even if Aurora had shops open in June, Chafant and his assailants would not have been allowed to make purchases, in the same way minors can't buy alcohol. This means the underage black market will continue to flourish for teens, even when legal sales are up and running. (Of course, the big difference is you can grow your own marijuana and you can't really make your own alcohol.) But it is possible Chafant wouldn't have been in that parking lot on the night in question. Perhaps the alleged murderers would have tried to hold up a store instead.

In the best of worlds, the guys would have been waiting outside a pot shop and asked an adult to buy them a bag. What adult hasn't been hit up by teens outside a convenience store thirsty for a six-pack?

As long as minors have no rights in these matters, they'll have to work out their issues in fast-food parking lots. It's an imperfect system, but at least Aurora and some other Colorado cities are beginning to see the light.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.