For 27 year-old Paul McCarrier, selling marijuana pays the bills and grows his career. But McCarrier doesn’t meet clients on street corners or in dimly lit parking lots.
As a state-licensed caregiver, the Belfast, Maine, man runs a legal small business. His profession was created under Maine’s medical marijuana laws, which have grown increasingly beneficial for caregivers since the first measure was approved in 1999.
The number of licensed caregivers has grown to 600 — and that figure is expected to shoot higher after Tuesday, when new rules go into effect that will expand the number of health conditions that can legally be treated with medical mariijuana.
In 2009, the state passed an amendment that allows caregivers to serve up to five patients. The new law also removed provisions that restricted medical marijuana patients to those related to or living with the caregiver. The caregivers can own six flowering marijuana plants per patient, and can sell up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana to patients every 15 days.
“We’ve created hundreds of jobs in Maine,” McCarrier said, although that fact likely won’t be touted by the Maine Chamber of Commerce or the state Office of Tourism.
The medical marijuana cottage industry co-exists alongside the eight state-approved medical marijuana dispensaries. Although there’s no official record-keeping of patients, a dispensary official estimated that caregivers serve about 20 percent of the roughly 10,000 marijuana patients statewide.
While the word “caregiver” does not conjure up images of entrepreneurs, in many cases the work not only helps patients, but also provides an