New Maine laws make it easier to buy medical marijuana — at your local gas station

New Maine laws make it easier to buy medical marijuana — at your local gas station

On Thursday, drivers fueling up their cars at one of Maine’s cheapest gas stations will also be able to purchase pot and edibles inside the converted Getty Mart.

Maine voters legalized medical marijuana in 1999, but their laws restricted which residents could access it. In 2016, they voted to legalize recreational cannabis, too. Their first recreational stores are projected to open this spring. Meanwhile, Maine is overhauling their medical marijuana model to serve more Maine residents — including drivers fueling up their cars.

The new medical marijuana law, which was passed in July, will take effect on Thursday. And at 10 AM on Thursday morning, a renovated “Gas and Grass” gas station in Portland, Maine will begin selling cannabis products out of a walk-in cooler. (The gas pumps will still provide fuel, and the store will sell other convenience store items.)

The new law allows anyone whose doctor recommends cannabis to get a medical marijuana card, to treat any medical condition. (Before, medical marijuana patients had to qualify by demonstrating they had one of Maine’s approved medical conditions.) It also allows local municipalities to regulate their own medical marijuana providers. It allows caregivers to open their own small businesses.

That’s how the Atlantic Farms Gas N’ Grass got local approval to begin selling cannabis-infused gummies, tinctures and marijuana out of a walk-in fridge on Thursday. A former lettuce farmer, along with a few local business partners, applied for local approval as soon as the marijuana reforms were passed. And on Thursday, patrons will still be able to use the self-serve fuel pumps, like usual — but inside the walk-in cooler, they’ll be able to purchase pot.

This casual setting should help ease the stigma of buying weed, founder Jackson McLeod told the Portland Press Herald.

“We offer a rotating menu of the best cannabis products from the best caregivers in Maine,” he said, “with the convenience of, well, a convenience store.” 

Gas N’ Grass in Portland is actually not the first weed-selling convenience store in America. There are only two other “convenience stores” selling legal cannabis. In 2015, Colorado’s largest dispensary chain, Native Roots, opened two “convenience store” models in Colorado Springs. But due to Colorado’s dispensary regulations, these are entirely separate businesses from the gas stations. They’re basically just fuel-pump adjacent. (A dispensary is not legally allowed to sell things like fuel.)

This also isn’t the first time Mainers have done something unusual with pot. In September, one Maine restaurateur started sedating lobsters with marijuana before boiling them. She believed it eased the pain of their passing, and was a more humane way to cook the crustaceans. So the restaurant owner and her employees were blowing cannabis bubbles to doomed lobsters. Maine eventually asked them to stop.

But now, starting on Thursday, local municipalities have much more control over how medical marijuana is used. People can buy pot while they fuel up their cars. (The Gas N’ Grass founders say they will caution people against impaired driving.) 

People may start trying to get lobsters stoned again.

Anything could happen. The State Legislature passed this sweeping medical marijuana overhaul despite the veto of the state’s governor, who was notoriously anti-pot. In the midterm elections in November, Maine voters replaced their weed-hating governor with a Democrat.

In Maine, anything is possible. Get ready for the the nation’s first dockside ganja-infused lobster-roll shack.