So if recreational marijuana is legal to own and consume, but illegal to buy, how do I get ahold of some?
I sought to answer this question the day after Old Port Fest — or rather, the moment my stash went dry. Could I acquire some online and not get in trouble?
My Internet searches didn't last long before I found an ad on Craigslist that read Peanut Chews With Delivery – $250 with Free Cannabis Gift.
That caught my attention. Non-THC candy but with a gift of an entire ounce of locally grown marijuana and free delivery anywhere in Central and Southern Maine? What first seemed like an outlandish proposition quickly turned into a pretty sweet deal.
While it's legal for me, a 24-year-old, to own up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, my only options of acquiring some are by growing it (which is not really an option for casual smokers) or buying on the black market. What's the point of something being legal if you can only get it illegally?
But it’s not illegal for growers and caregivers to just give marijuana away, thus opening up a newish gray market.
Curious, I texted the number on the ad, introduced myself, and asked if this deal was legit. I promptly got a text back confirming that it was, and asking if I was 21+ and if I could show ID.
After confirming, I asked to meet the person at the other end of the line to learn more about this legal gray area in Maine’s current marijuana law, one that caregivers in the state like Leafy Delivery are exploiting in lieu of the recreational market's failure to launch.
The contact from Craigslist, Steve, agreed to send his driver John to meet me and answer my questions about how business has been. A day later we were shaking hands and sipping coffee at a Portland Mr. Bagel.
John, who wanted to keep his last name anonymous (because who really knows how long this loophole will stay open), told me that he supplies prepared cannabis to five medicinal patients, and about 10-12 recreational users, delivering product from Waterville to Kittery.
Small-scale growers like John want their own slice of the recreational market pie, but progress on getting those rules implemented has been slow at best, and aggressive toward smaller operations at worst. John’s worried that once marijuana becomes legal to sell, monopolies will form and he won’t be able to compete with dispensaries and caregivers with more serious capital.
“We don’t know if we’re going to be able to get into the recreational market,” he says. “Dispensaries have paid a bunch of lawyers and lobbyists to sit in on these public input meetings in Augusta. They’re trying to push for an early entry into the recreational market.”
According to John, there’s a big demand for marijuana in Maine, and he expects the legal market to be worth around 220 million dollars a year. “There’s a lot of money up for grabs,” he says.
John would prefer not to be exploiting this gift loophole, “it’s a little strange,” he says. But he’s using it as a “training ground” of sorts for his foray into the potential recreational market, which he envisions is about two years away.
In the meantime, John and his free weed-delivery operation aim for maximum legitimacy and minimum sketchiness. For starters, interested peanut chew buyers have to present their ID and sign a release form acknowledging that the marijuana received is a gift, and that they won’t give the product to minors.
John calls it a “cover-your-ass document.”
Gift exchanges are done in public spaces, typically away from street corners and parking lots. During the exchange John does his best to convince the buyer to become a medicinal patient, offering to pay for the $99 certification through CannaCare Docs.
Lastly, John and his team pay sales tax on whatever candies they might have sold that year.
“People want convenience, and for now, until the market opens up, we’re giving it to them,” says John.
Upon wrapping up my interview with John, I asked to try one of his peanut chew candies, the little things that technically gave his entire operation legitimacy. John handed me a white bag with my name on it, and sure enough, there was a second gift inside with the chocolate: 3.5 grams of Black Widow. A quick whiff offered an intense aroma.
Regardless of the generic brand, those chews sure tasted delicious later that night.
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