PORTLAND, Maine — The Pine Tree State is introducing a new kind of convenience store.
Atlantic Farms Gas N' Grass, Maine's first marijuana convenience store and one of only a handful in operation in the country, opened its doors at 10 a.m. Thursday in Portland.
The c-store sells cannabis-infused gummies, tinctures and smokable marijuana to those fueling up at the former Getty Mart at 460 Warren Ave. on the first day that Maine's new medical marijuana law takes effect, Press Herald reported.
Adults with a medical card and government-issued identification will be able to buy marijuana products from a renovated walk-in cooler inside the convenience store, with different strains of cannabis selling for $5 to $15 a gram and concentrates selling for $20 to $40 a gram.
Non-intoxicating hemp products, traditional c-store fare like soda and snacks, and self-serve, pay-at-the-pump gas is among Gas N' Grass' other offerings.
Jackson McLeod of Portland, a caregiver and the public face of the four-person partnership behind Gas N' Grass, hopes to educate those who gas up at the Warren Avenue location about the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and hemp, and believes the setting will take a lot of the stigma and hassle out of buying cannabis.
"We offer a rotating menu of the best cannabis products from the best caregivers in Maine with the convenience of, well, a convenience store," he told the news outlet.
A former lettuce farmer, McLeod likens the business model to a farmers market for cannabis, where consumers can easily browse products from a range of local caregivers at different price ranges. He plans to make the most of the part of the new law that allows a caregiver to buy some products from other caregivers, giving customers a diversity of offerings in a one-stop shopping experience and caregivers the chance to develop a following of their own, the news outlet reported.
New State Law
The idea of the Gas N' Grass was born about six months ago as Maine lawmakers debated the merits of reforming the medical cannabis law to give caregivers like McLeod the freedom to grow their businesses. Under the new law, caregivers can do things such as hire more than one employee and open medical marijuana shops, according to the report.
The new law makes changes to the state's 19-year-old medical cannabis program. It allows patients to get a medical card if a doctor deems cannabis medically beneficial instead of having to prove they have a state-sanctioned qualifying condition. It will grant six new medical dispensary licenses, giving Maine a total of 14. It also gives the state new authority to inspect caregiver operations.
The law requires a caregiver to get local approval before opening a store. McLeod and his partners had their local permits in order to be approved by the state — like a renovation permit to turn a walk-in cooler into a marijuana shopping area, a foodservice license and a certificate of occupancy — to be ready as soon as the law went into effect, according to Press Herald.
McLeod and his partners made these moves before Portland adopted a moratorium on new retail cannabis businesses in October. City staff asked the City Council for enough time to craft a cannabis zoning map and sort out local licensing conditions before the state medical law went into effect and the state adult-use cannabis market goes live sometime next year. McLeod and his partners were one of eight cannabis businesses to get permits before the moratorium.
Suited for Cannabis Sales
Although state lawmakers have focused on the dangers of mixing cannabis and driving, banning social clubs out of fear that they could lead to a spike in impaired driving, Portland officials don't see any unique concerns with the gas and cannabis combination.
Although state law doesn't require it, McLeod said he and his partners will attach a sticker with a "don't use this and drive" message to all cannabis products they sell because of their specific business model.
Like any medical marijuana business, Gas N' Grass will prohibit on-site consumption of cannabis products and will have cameras monitoring the parking lot, the news outlet noted.