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Maine C-Store Offers Gas, Grass and Grub

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New laws remove many obstacles for adults who want to purchase marijuana and related products.

December 17, 2018 

PORTLAND, Maine – Last week, the Atlantic Farms Gas N’ Grass, a former Getty Mart in Portland, Maine, became one the first U.S. convenience stores to sell smokable marijuana and cannabis-infused edibles to the public, according to the Portland Press Herald.

As a result of recent changes to Maine’s marijuana laws, adult customers with a medical card and government-issued identification may legally purchase marijuana products from a renovated walk-in cooler inside the store. Different strains of cannabis sell for $5 to $15 a gram and concentrates go for $20 to $40 a gram. Non-intoxicating hemp products are available to anyone, along with the traditional c-store fare of sodas and snacks.

Jackson McLeod of Portland is one of four business partners behind Gas N’ Grass. A former lettuce farmer, he wants to educate people about the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and hemp.

“We offer a rotating menu of the best cannabis products from the best caregivers in Maine with the convenience of, well, a convenience store,” said McLeod, who compares the store’s business model to a farmers’ market for marijuana.

Maine’s new marijuana law 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, such as chronic pain, cancer or Crohn’s disease. And not just anyone can open a cannabis-selling c-store. Maine requires several permits, and McLeod and his partners were among eight businesses that received them.

State lawmakers have expressed concerns about consumers using cannabis and then driving, and they have banned “social clubs” out of fear that they could lead to an increase in auto mishaps. But in Portland, city officials apparently don’t have concerns about selling gas in the same location where cannabis is purchased. Gas N’ Grass prohibits on-site consumption of cannabis products and will have cameras monitoring the parking lot.

While Maine laws don’t require it, McLeod said Gas N’ Grass will attach a sticker with a “don’t use this and drive” warning on all cannabis products.

More gas stations are starting to offer hemp products, which by law contain less than 1% of the cannabis compound that makes people high, but there are only a handful of other convenience stores in the United States that sell gas and marijuana, said Jeff Lenard, spokesman for NACS. The best known is Native Roots, which has two locations in Colorado.

In some ways, convenience stores are ideally suited to selling cannabis, said Lenard. The industry is accustomed to verifying identification for age-restricted products, such as alcohol and tobacco, and stores long ago adopted security measures that could work well to discourage robberies in a cash-only market like marijuana.

At the October NACS Show in Las Vegas, an education session was held on how convenience stores could capitalize on changes in marijuana laws; however, the panel discussion focused on the sale of accessories, hemp-related products and cannabis-adjacent categories, not the sale of recreational marijuana itself.

“It’s not the first, but what Portland is doing is way out in front,” Lenard said. “Given how fast states are legalizing marijuana, though, more are definitely coming.”