What would you do if you lived in a state where there is a waiting period between legalized marijuana use and legalized marijuana sales? In Maine, there is now legalized personal possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and it’s legal to consume in private, but it is still technically possible to get arrested for buying it on the black market. In fact, Maine just legalized recreational marijuana last November. The law went into effect in January 2017.
The Problem for Business Owners is Real
If a state’s voters are going to pave the way for the cannabis industry, then people will step forward to make a profit. There will have to be legalized buying and selling of cannabis and cannabis-related products, but this will take time. Call it the American entrepreneurial at work. Some business owners are getting creative as they gear up for cannabis sales, such as marketing foods infused with the plant’s components. One Maine business owner, Jack Sargent, has plans to open a catering business and to launch a cannabis-infused bakery. However, he must be mindful of the lack of state licensing laws. He can only give away his products for now, which can help him to create product awareness among future clientele but will not earn him a real living.
‘Drumming up attention at this month’s First Friday Art Walk in Portland, Jack Sargent operates The Cannabis Shack, a Biddeford-based company that makes marijuana-infused edibles. He gets around current laws against selling pot by giving away products and seeking only donations. “I’m not the only one doing it,” he said.’ (Portland Press Herald photo by Brianna Soukup)
Looking for a Loophole
It stands to reason that cannabis users in Maine will create a demand for the product that outpaces the industry’s legal development. In America, the entrepreneurial mindset ensures that business owners find ways to work around the law. A new twist has become making gifts of cannabis products to customers and delivering them within Maine. While a consumer may pay for delivery of a product in Maine, it’s already legal to grow cannabis in your backyard. Until the state writes its licensing laws, businesses cannot legally sell cannabis products. Think of this as a temporary obstacle for the industry’s businesses to overcome.
Where is the Limbo?
Sargent is something of a groundbreaker by working with this loophole in the law. He doesn’t break the law by charging for delivery of cannabis gifts. A general rule of thumb is that the more expensive the strain of cannabis in a product, the higher its delivery fee will be. Through the gifting of these kinds of products, Maine consumers can begin to use them without worrying about breaking the law.
The Law Affects Adults
Who is affected by Maine’s new cannabis law? It is now legal for adults age 21 and over to consume cannabis. However, recreational users and people who would grow and distribute this flowering plant must use caution. Marijuana use becomes legal for the first time in Maine in the wake of pioneer legislation in states like Colorado.
The Gray Area
Law enforcement officials and people working in cannabis-related businesses are aware of the gray area that now exists in Maine law. It’s not really a black market so much as a period of waiting for further laws and regulations to define the industry. When a business owner like Sargent tests the letter of the law by working around it, he makes way for future businesses to do the same.
Maine differs from other states like Florida that have adopted medical marijuana legislation, which provides for limited use of the cannabis plant. Florida businesses are waiting on rules for how they can grow and distribute the plant for medical purposes, but only to consumers who meet certain health requirements. Maine’s law will eventually evolve to widen the opportunities for adult cannabis use. Consumers should recognize that Sargent is not the only business owner gifting cannabis products in Maine. It’s reportedly easy to go on Craig’s List and find other companies that give away similar products if you’re willing to pay a delivery fee.