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Corporate Interests In Maine Torpedeo 2014 Legalization Effort

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portland maine marijuana legalizationAs we mentioned here previously, NORML has worked with Representative Diane Russell in Maine to draft and prepare for introduction a measure that would have legalized and regulated the adult use of marijuana in the state. The proposed legislation would have legalized the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and the cultivation of up to 6 plants by individuals over the age of 21. It would have established marijuana retail outlets and cultivation sites across the state to create an aboveboard regulated market. To ensure that both those with experience and those with strong ties to the state of Maine were given priority, applicants who are already operating in Maine’s medical program and applicants with 2 or more years residency in the state were to receive the right of first refusal for retail licenses.

To be introduced, the measure had to be approved by Maine’s Legislative Council and was on track to do so until today. At the last minute, monied corporate interests representing established medical marijuana dispensaries came in and managed to flip one of the votes necessary to approve the bill for introduction. Their complaints were vague and they made the claim they were not invited to the table, despite the legislation being drafted to provide them with priority status when it came to applying for retail licenses. In truth, they walked away from the very table they said they were not invited to. In addition to providing deference to both medical dispensaries, registered caregivers, and applicants with real ties to the state, 5% of the taxes raised from the sales of retail marijuana would have gone to help low income patients who are suffering in Maine by subsidizing the cost of their medical cannabis.

“Today, corporate and profit-driven interests shunned Maine’s economic future and shut down the prospects of a new bill to regulate marijuana,” stated Representative Diane Russell, “For the record, 5% of tax revenue from the new bill would have gone to ensuring low income Mainers could afford their medical marijuana. Profits seem to be more important than patients – and that’s just wrong.”

With pressure from those with vested interest in maintaining the status quo, this proposed legislation ended up falling one vote short of what was required for its introduction, although we had enough votes.

Maine Residents: Please, take a moment of your day to contact Maine’s Legislative Council using our form linked below and let them know you disagree with their decision. The time is overdue for Maine to move towards a regulated system that puts the interests of Mainers before the interest of profits.

CLICK HERE TO CONTACT MAINE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

Very Disappointing: Please Reconsider LR 2329

I am writing to express my disappointment with the Maine Legislative Council for failing to approve Representative Diane Russell’s proposed legislation that would have legalized adult possession and limited cultivation of marijuana, while regulating its retail sale similar to how our state currently regulates alcohol.

For those who voted in support of Rep. Russell’s bill, I sincerely thank you. For those who voted in opposition to it, I write to respectfully request you reconsider your vote. I’ve outlined my reasons below and hope you will give serious consideration to the growing number of Mainers who want a Maine approach to marijuana policy.

Next Tuesday, Portland will be voting on a citizen referendum to legalize cannabis for adults. If this ordinance passes, there will be no vehicle to channel the growing momentum for legalization toward a constructive end. When 58% of Americans support replacing prohibition with regulation, the issue is no longer coming – it’s here. Regardless of the vote next week, we should be actively working to get ahead of this issue in a responsible, open manner.

Mainers are quickly realizing that prohibition has failed to protect kids. In fact, more than 80 percent of high school seniors attest to the federal government that they have easy access to marijuana – that statistic has remained constant for nearly four decades.

Further, Mainers are twice as likely to get arrested for possession if they are African American; York county residents are five times as likely. In 2010 alone, Maine arrested over 2,800 individuals for simple marijuana possession. The cost of enforcing these laws comes with an annual bill in excess of 8.8 million dollars a year, while doing nothing to create safer communities or dissuade use. Further, this system has only incentivized drug dealers and cartels who are currently profiting off prohibition.

This legislation was written with safe guards in place to give priority to in state residents and current medical marijuana dispensary operators when it comes to the distribution of retail licenses. Additionally, it would have taken the marijuana trade out of the hands of black market criminal elements and put it under the control of legitimate regulated business owners – from Maine – while raising substantial tax revenue for the state. The bill funded the hiring of new Drug Recognition Experts to help enhance highway safety, Drugs for the Elderly, addiction treatment, medical marijuana for low income people, and the launch of a marijuana youth prevention task force.

In short, this was a Maine approach to responsibly addressing a growing cultural shift. I ask you to reconsider this vote, and allow a new bill to move forward that truly reflects the direction Mainers want to go on this issue.

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18 Comments

  1. the issue that we have here in the state is this, we were attacked very early on in the game of negotiations to bring dispensaries into the state by the type of corporate entities that killed marijuana legalization attempts in california as well. we had a citizens initiative that passed and the governor signed the law but immediately put a moratorium on the enacting of the law until he and the rest of the people at the statehouse saw fit to do. they implemented their law and allowed a corporate environment come into the picture that set out to totally hijack the market and take our patient grows away from us. but maine was different in the fact that we had already had a very strong medical scene that was in fact patient/caregiver based. we fought tooth and nail, and barely kept our rights. they imposed heavy restrictions that were in best scenario asinine. but however we fought back and overcame the oppressor when we had their changes to be put back the way they were. the dispensary owners formed a group to lobby at the state level, and they bear heavy weight. that very group of dispensary owners and one of the top caregiver groups in the state who claim to represent maine’s caregivers and patients are ones fighting the bill from going forward. early on in the games they in fact walked away from negotiations, and are the first to not even at least support it for the good of the economy. it’s funny that the very group of people that were grouped together doing the grassroots efforts to keep maine’s laws copacetic to the good of patients, have in fact become the maine version of the corporate entities that we initially ran off, and are trying to control monopoly on the market. and in fact the reason being so is that if you examine what happened in colorado the prices of everything went through the floor as opposed to what we have here,,,their prices are now around 200 dollars an ounce for the finest grade of weed you can get anywhere, and there is a new growth spurt in the construction industries and real estate markets as well. it has improved the economy of the state and it hasn’t even had a chance to be fully implemented yet. it’s really sad and ironic that a select few that have grouped together that once were a part of the many, are now the ones imposing the rule of those that we all ran off, and are in fact the ones that are standing in the way of major happenings like that for the state of maine as well.

  2. But don’t you think it could be possible for people to have different levels of ability to feel empathy? It’s not like it’s one or the other, sociopath or not. Somewhere in our brains is a little, tiny speck or nodule that represents the place where we “feel” empathy. And since everybody’s brain is different, maybe empathy is about brain chemistry more than anything else. Too philosophical? :)

  3. Feeling empathy often takes a far, far back seat to feeling smug and self-satisfied. It’s not that they can’t feel empathy, they’re just too busy stroking their own egos to be bothered to.

    Though, yes, there are probably some who simply *can’t* feel empathy. We’ll probably never know how many socially functional sociopaths surround us, though it’s probably safe to say a lot of them work in politics and the financial sector.

  4. I know people like that. I always thought these kind of people just lacked the ability to feel empathy. Sure, being empathetic is a wonderful quality, but it can drag you down, ya know? So perhaps there is room for both personality types.

  5. I know people like that. I always thought these kind of people just lacked the ability to feel empathy. Sure, being empathetic is a wonderful quality, but it can drag you down, ya know? So perhaps there is room for both personality types.

  6. Oldtimemoonshine on

    I’m all for growing your own medicine and have helped numerous patients to achieve just that. Started on commercial, didnt like the prices, led to growing my own which led to medical caregiver. I still complain when I hear someone paying over 25 bucks for an eighth.

  7. Maybe a little, but not really. Meeting your needs, first, is a behavior that nature selects for, heavily, for obvious reasons. A friend of mine in Anthropology once told me that truly successful species are selected for both egoistic and altruistic qualities. Watch out for yourself, but also watch out for the herd (usually in that order) and the species will survive and prosper.

    Though that’s just an academic view.

    In terms of everyday personality types, it should be noted, most of the “I got mine!” types don’t have the presence of mind and/or the self-awareness necessary to wonder if their attitude is right or wrong. The true “I got mine” types are the special breed of narcissist who, quite literally, see all other people as both 100% separate and 100% *beneath* them in all ways — they don’t stop to consider the needs and circumstances of other people with anything close to human parity. They simply see their success in obtaining or achieving “goal X” and others’ failures to do the same as evidence of their superiority.

  8. I feel your cynicism. And am I wrong to care more about the ability to obtain my own medicine than the larger legalization fight?

  9. Oh, of course not. You work for a pittance, I’m certain. It’s *just* the dispensary guys.
    This entire story leaves me feeling sick to my stomach, frankly. I’m a monumentous supporter of medical cannabis — *and* full legalization.

    Sometimes, people go nuts complaining that medical cannabis is just a ruse for a select few to make a lot fo money from sick people. I say medical cannabis is the best stopgap measure we can do in the short-term to get medicine to the suffering people that need it, while we keep working towards full, national legalization and regulation for recreational purposes.

    But then, I get kicked in the face by a size 14 work boot called REALITY when I read stories like this one. How medical cannabis, like everything ELSE in our corrupt society, is being exploited by people making money hand over fist from sick people. They make so much money, that when the push for full legalization comes along, like a drug dealer desperate to protect their turf, they fight against it.

    It makes me think that I should drop my advocacy for medical cannabis. After all, not all sick people can get the access they need, even in MMJ states, and the PRICES are too high because of greedy growers — sorry, I mean “monied corporate interests.” It’s a frustrating choice. Allow a smaller fraction of people in need to continue to suffer so that we can spare 750,000 people the pain of being arrested next year and having their lives ruined. That’s the choice that the GREED of medical cannabis has forced me to make.

    I still *know* cannabis is one of the greatest medicinal substances on earth.

    But it’s no longer about medicine. It’s about money. Cannabis is supposed to be an ALTERNATIVE to getting medicine from “monied corporate interests.” I guess not.

  10. I like getting down votes because it means somebody’s listening. However, I don’t understand why I got a down vote on this one. Is it bad to be curious?

  11. Oldtimemoonshine on

    reread the story it says “monied corporate interests representing established medical marijuana
    dispensaries came in and managed to flip one of the votes necessary to
    approve the bill for introduction.”

    It didnt say anything about us caregivers who have been licensed for 2 or more yrs complaining bout this, we want it.

  12. Although I think you may be talking to someone other than me…
    Unnecessary attention can be scary. The spotlight does not look (or feel) good on everyone.

  13. You won’t know what a non-greedy grower looks like because he/she grows in secret and for themselves only. He/she is silently in favor of legalization but keeps it to themselves to avoid any un-necessary attention.

  14. This goes to prove that not everyone involved in marijuana is an ally of legalization and freedom. In fact some are outright enemies of legalization and freedom. It’s time to stop pretending that people involved with marijuana are on the same side. These marijuana dispensaries that the article pointed out want prohibition to do their dirty work for them. These are asymmetrical enemies as opposed to the regular know nothing reefer madness prohibitions who are the symmetrical enemies of cannabis freedom. Wake up already!

  15. I’m just wondering what a non-greedy grower looks like. Would it be anyone against legalization?

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