New Jersey medical marijuana patients vacationing in Maine this summer won’t have to pack their own cannabis medicines when they travel to Lobster Land. They’ll be able to buy some of the nation’s finest -- and least expensive -- weed when they arrive Down East.
For New Jersey patients, the arrangement with Maine marks the first time their medical marijuana cards can be officially recognized out-of-state, said Jeff Brown, assistant commissioner for medical marijuana at the New Jersey Department of Health.
“Now New Jersey patients don’t have to risk traveling across state lines with their medicine, which is federally illegal, and can purchase it when they get there,” said Brown. “However, I’d advise patients, don’t plan on bringing any home. Their cards won’t provide protection in other states.”
Pennsylvania could enter into a similar agreement if the state Department of Health grants permission to Maine.
High-quality, outdoor-grown marijuana can be had for as little as $200 an ounce at many of Maine’s licensed providers. “Mainers would scoff at us if we had prices that were any higher, even if it is worth more,” said Claire Stretch, who operates All Kind, a cannabis caregiver in downtown Portland.
Compare to Pennsylvania and New Jersey where the price of cannabis can top $400 an ounce.
Providers hope that the arrangements might spur more tourism to Maine, even if it might be a challenge to locate a state-licensed seller due to limitations on advertising. (Currently, most folks use Weedmaps.com to find a cannabis retailer.)
Stretch said Maine is well-positioned to capitalize on canna-travel.
“People come here for all the things we do best -- clam bakes, lobster pounds,” said Stretch, who produces a line of gourmet chocolate edibles and smokable flower and oils from 10 different providers. “The marijuana industry could be a big part of why tourists travel here. And recreational sales are on the horizon for next year.”
Recreational marijuana is legal in some Massachusetts jurisdictions, but the prices can be high there, too. At Mass Wellspring in Acton, a short drive from Boston, all ounces were selling for $375.
Stretch said unlike in other states, Maine’s industry isn’t focused on mass production. “We specialize in nuanced hybrids and provide a lot of different medicinal strains," she said. "That makes us a good place for patients to source specialty items they haven’t been able to find elsewhere.”
So far, Maine marijuana providers have not been overwhelmed with out-of-state patients taking advantage of the reciprocity arrangements with their home states, she said.
“It’s so new that people don’t know,” she said. “And that gives them the chance to discover us.”
As of July 12, Maine caregivers and marijuana dispensaries may accept medical cannabis cards from the following jurisdictions:
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, DC.