BY MATTHEW BURROWS
The first question thousands of voters saw at the polls Tuesday, started off by asking whether or not Maine should allow the recreational use and sale of marijuana.
In the past few weeks, many have expressed doubt, questioning whether or not the bill is fit for Maine, as many say it will reduce local harvesting of marijuana and furthermore reducing local profits. Some even changing their initial plans to vote YES, to a NO.
“I hear exceptions from people on many different issues related to the bill and the broader idea of legalization. […] Given what we’ve seen from Gov. LePage, I think we will be hard-pressed to find a better bill than this one, which allows for the most home cultivation and some of the lowest licensing fees for the commercial marketplace in the nation.” said “Yes on 1’s” Deputy Field Director, Nick Murray.
According to maine.gov, if passed, this bill will allow “the possession and use of marijuana under state law by persons who are at least 21 years of age, and allow the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance.”
Overall it appears quite similar to alcohol, legally allowing responsible use for responsible adults; Not only allowing a new taxable market, benefiting the state, but also establishing new careers, and furthermore new job creation.
“Police don’t have the liberty to take sides with issues. The issue is with OUI’s, as there are only a certain number of Drug Recognition Experts.” said Roland LaCroix, University of Maine Chief of Police.
If people under the influence of marijuana get behind the wheel of a car it is still illegal, and these experts are required to vet through each person that acquires an OUI.
“I believe that the passage of Question 1 will present Americans with a very confusing action; I believe that if you are going to make marijuana legal then it should be federally legislated so that it is the law of the entire land.” said Robert Welch, University of Maine Police Officer.
Officer Welch continued more specifically about Umaine with, “People still don’t understand that marijuana is not legal on UMaine grounds, with or without a permit. We go through this “dance” where we have to find out about a [medical marijuana] card before there is any enforcement action. When we tell people with a card that they can’t have marijuana on campus they want UMaine police to find a place to store it.”
“No on 1’s” campaign page has several points that are persuading many to change their vote. According to their site, “This ballot initiative is funded by Washington DC special interests who just want to get rich at the expense of you and your children.”
Many believe this is simply something else the government can benefit from, yet the initiative establishes a cap on how big a cultivator can be, which will discourage big business. The bill limits maximum cultivation at 30,000 sq. ft. and limits licenses to one per individual or entity.
Other concerns are for the already existing career of caregiver, or a provider of medicinal marijuana to those who are unable to get it themselves. Section 2454 of the bill clearly states “Relation to the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act. This chapter may not be construed to limit any privileges or rights of a qualifying patient, primary caregiver, registered or otherwise, or registered dispensary under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act.” These will not affect the users of marijuana produced by caregivers in this instance.
“As a student I feel that voting yes on Question 1 is protecting my peers who safely use marijuana… as well as reducing the financial tax burden that is used to keep people in jail for nonviolent offenses involving marijuana.” said Sonia Berghoff, a second year Music major at the University of Maine.
Many students are involved with Question 1, showing the passion that’s a main driving force behind the bill. “Yes on One” described Question 1 being “Written by Mainers for Mainers.”
Either way, if the bill is passed or not, it will have an effect on Mainers and Students alike. College age students are a large majority of current marijuana smokers, and of those that are of age, this bill is will be widely impactful.