From 5 to 9 pm today, at Caswell Farm in Gray, cultivators and culinary artists had planned to hold a country fair to celebrate Maine’s cannabis culture. But those plans were dashed at the last minute, due to regulators’ concerns that the event would violate state marijuana law.
Yes, Maine voters approved adult-use legalization in November 2016. But without a retail licensing system, the only truly legal weed in Maine at the moment is medical cannabis. And since the Cultivator Country Fair was to be open to anyone 21-years and up, and not medically-related, regulators said it would break a couple of rules. Aiming to give cannabis a good name in Maine, not a bad one, the event’s organizers opted to cancel the event.
What’s Not to Love About Maine’s Cultivator Country Fair?
The charmingly plain event poster for Cultivator Food Lab’s Cultivator Country Fair bills the event as a “farm to fork cannabis dinner.” Featuring the cannabis-infused culinary flair of guest chef Scott Nikol from Portland’s alt-restaurant DuckFat, the dinner would celebrate “a collaboration of art, food and cannabis culture from Maine.” Not to mention the live music & circus performances that would serve as a prelude to the meal and evening entertainment.
Organizers also wanted the event to benefit the community, creating a positive and neighborly image of Maine’s cannabis industry. All money raised at the dinner would have gone to local charities. In short, the Cultivator Country Fair is about as wholesome a cannabis event as one could imagine. So why did state regulators put the kibosh on it?
Maine’s Cannabis Laws Are Out Of Step With Its Cannabis Community
For a couple of reasons. First, it’s currently illegal for anyone without a medical cannabis license to possess or use medical marijuana—the only kind of marijuana that’s actually legal in Maine. So that excludes using it to prepare foods, especially if those foods are for sale.
The second reason is the “collaborative” nature of the event as advertised. Maine’s medical cannabis law says caregivers cannot work collectively to cultivate, market or distribute medical cannabis. Since caregivers, cultivators, chefs and others present at the event would be acting collectively, they would technically break that law as well.
If everyone at the event was a registered participant in the state’s medical cannabis program, and if the event had medical relevance, and if the only cannabis at it came from a licensed producer—then, perhaps, the event would have been above board.
But inspectors ultimately deemed it was none of those things. And when they informed Cultivator Food Labs about that fact, organizers immediately canceled the fair. Disappointment quickly spread on social media. And Cultivator Food Lab founder Dave Stephenson told reporters “it feels like we keep fighting the same fight. The people voted for it, but we still face one obstacle after another, even for a charity event.”
Ticket-holders for the Cultivator Country Fair will receive a full refund. Performers and other contractors will still get paid. But they’re cutting Stephenson a break price-wise, considering the state caused the event’s cancellation.
Maine’s lawmakers are still hashing out a regulatory framework to govern adult-use retail. But sales should begin by 2019. When they do, look for another farm-to-fork cannabis dinner from Cultivator Food Labs. They’re already planning on it.