Last November, voters in Maine legalized marijuana by a narrow margin. Ever since, state lawmakers have been busily drafting rules to regulate a legal cannabis industry. However, they are proving highly creative. Now, they are discussing the rarest idea of all: Customers in Maine will be able to purchase marijuana at drive-up windows.
Currently, only eight states permit the sale of recreational cannabis for legal adults, with some not in effect yet. Drive-through sales, however, are only permissible in Colorado and Oregon. California, which will begin sales next year, had a drive-through clause in its draft regulations, but in order to comply with state laws merging the medical and recreational markets, they were amended and rewritten.
Despite this, sales by drive-through are still a strong possibility in California, as they are likely to survive regulations. Massachusetts has yet to address the subject, tasking its Cannabis Control Commission with creating a regulatory framework for legal sales to start next summer. For a bill that insists on “treating marijuana like alcohol,” it seems the logical next step would be to allow drive-through weed sales.
David Boyer, director of the Marijuana Policy Project’s Maine chapter, told the Portland Press Herald, “If Maine allows it for alcohol; we see no reason why it should not be allowed for marijuana, the safer substance, so long as Maine puts in place reasonable regulations to protect public safety and the consumer. The voters want it regulated and taxed like alcohol. The rules should be the same.”
The deal is incomplete, however. The draft bill is still under consideration at the legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation, and the week ahead is of paramount importance. The bill got a public hearing on Tuesday, and legislative debate will continue on Wednesday and Thursday. If approved by the committee, then next month it will face the full legislature.
Legal cannabis regulators are considering several possibilities for non-storefront sales. Drive-through pot purchases is just one of a subset of them. There are also online sales and delivery services, which is also a contentious issue in some communities. In Maine, the proposed measure would permit both of those options, as well, but it unlikely that all other legal states would be as liberal-minded.
It is a clear indication that times are changing. Progress was slow, but it is picking up speed rapidly. Public debate has finally shifted from methods and means of punishing petty weed offenders to how best to create an economically profitable regulatory environment for legal marijuana sales. However, legal weed still has a long path ahead of it before anyone can claim similar treatment to alcohol.