The implementation of Recreational Marijuana Sales set to begin in Maine
sometime within the next year. While the 2016 vote for legalization was one of the closest elections in Maine’s history, the majority of the organized opposition was from the medical marijuana community. The fear was that recreational cannabis could severely damage the program that was considered the best state for patient access in America. While the referendum made reference to a canopy cap, which many argued would lead to a monopoly by the players with the most money, the idea of a “canopy cap” was abandoned by the Maine Legislature’s Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee when the recreational marijuana law was
brought before the legislature. In mid-October, Maine began having training for Biotrack seed-to-sale tracking software for both medical and recreational users.
Earlier this spring, I had the chance to visit Colorado. I was lucky
to be able to schedule a six-hour layover in Denver. The state has the
longest recreational marijuana program, which began in 2014. While Colorado does have a robust medical marijuana program, but it does not give reciprocity to medical patients from other states. In most cases, if you are above the age of 21, you can use the recreational marijuana
program. But to be a medical patient in Colorado, you need to reside in the state for for at least thirty days.
I arrived in Denver and took the regional train service to Union Station. The fare
was very reasonable, the train was completely accessible, and the ride from the airport
had stunning views of the Rocky Mountains and amazing street art. When I arrived in Union Station, I grabbed some fresh pizza and went off to find a recreational cannabis store. It took less than ten minutes before I was seated inside a store waiting my turn to buy some merchandise.
I thought there were some very good parts of the Colorado program, like the fact
that the woman who I bought my flower from had a license issued by the state. I was a
bit less enthusiastic when the strain I really wanted to try was only available in a half gram
preroll. I was trying to buy a full gram preroll, and they could not “make” one up because
their inventory system was very tightly controlled. Overall, I was impressed that the
experience felt very professional (maybe controlled might be a better word). Unfortunately, when I asked for literature, I was handed a handful of different cannabis magazines. The people who worked at this first store were tremendously helpful, and I probably would visit them again because they had great customer service. And as I would find out a bit later, the cannabis flower was superb.
R was on her way. She wanted to take me to see some sights as well as another
store, and we also wanted to enjoy the cannabis. Like Maine, it’s illegal to consume cannabis
in public spaces, but in Denver the fine can be as much as a hundred dollars, and a large percentage of the people who are fined are the homeless. Denver is incredibly beautiful, and I got to see a large part of the cool places to see in Denver, like the Zoo and the Botanical Gardens. It was quite bizarre to be in what was referred to as “downtown” Denver and literally not see any signs of poverty. I enjoyed three prerolls of cannabis with R, and like everyone else who R has been with when they tried Colorado cannabis, I was dumbfounded by how
potent it was. I didn’t try any edibles or concentrates simply because I didn’t have
enough time to use them responsibly.
When I did get a chance to read the six different magazines that I picked up, the prices on cannabis were similar to the prices in Maine, but generally they were probably lower, especially if you look for monthly coupons or daily specials every store seems to have. The level of professionalism is unparalleled in Colorado. They’ve had an active market for five years now, and working in the cannabis industry doesn’t seem like it was considered a disrespectful way to earn a living. If anything, it seems to actually have status as a respected job. Differences in cost seem probably due to the sheer magnitude of the industry compared to the size of Maine.
Furthermore, Colorado is strange because there are large parts of the state that
are considered federal lands where cannabis is not supposed to be brought on those
lands. Concentrated wax or shatter is sold not only by the gram like in Maine, but by the ounce, and at costs that would be considered unprofitable in Maine. When you consider that wax or shatter has no smell, is small and easy to transport, and that “Dabbing culture” seems to be huge in Colorado, it’s a program that seems to work best for the needs of the people of Colorado. While there are always reasons to be cautious, it would be too easy to be
fearful of what is new and could potentially cause issues with the medical program. Given the time and attention to detail the legislature has taken, the fact that medical cannabis itself has been a boost to the Maine economy, and that Maine Cannabis patients can effectively organize, I think it will certainly be a help to some patients.
The author was one of the first legal Cannabis patients in Maine.