Marijuana Gifting Could Expose Legal Loophole

Maine voters may have voted in favor of marijuana legalization last November, but lawmakers are still working on regulations for retail sales. That means adults may legally grow and possess marijuana, but there is no legal way to purchase it.

Some say they have found a loophole in the law: marijuana "gifting."

Jack Sargent operates the Cannabis Shack in Biddeford. He is a licensed grower and makes marijuana edibles, rubs, sauces and salad dressings. Instead of selling his products, he gives them to customers, and accepts a donation in return.

"You would have thought I just gave them the keys to a free Ferrari," Sargent said, describing his customers as "giddy."

He said simply search Craigslist, and you'll easily find other people exploiting that loophole.

"I'm not the only one doing this," he said. "I'm just the only one standing up and speaking about it."

Sargent said he has consulted attorneys about his operation, and does not believe he is doing anything illegal.

"The law is still so fresh," said Chief Deputy Naldo Gagnon of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department.

Gagnon said law enforcement has only recently learned about the marijuana gifting trend, and he isn't sure if it's legal.

"It all depends on the eyes of the court," he said. "To me, it's pretty black and white. It's truly a sale to me. But that's my opinion."

Marijuana legalization advocate David Boyer, who was the head of Maine's legalization campaign, said the gifting practice is another reason why lawmakers should act as fast as possible to set up retail sales.

"There's a big gray area, and this is expanding the underground market," Boyer said.

A spokesperson for the Maine Attorney General's Office did not respond to requests for comment.

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