NO ON 1 APPLAUDS TOWN OF OAKLAND'S LEADERSHIP IN BANNING POT SHOPS AND CALLS FOR A STATEWIDE MORATORIUM
Oakland was one of the 2/3rds of Maine Towns where majority of voters said "No" to Question 1. Meanwhile, No On 1 says Maine needs more time to work out the implementation of Question 1.
Augusta – Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities (MPOYC), the organization that lead the effort against the legalization of marijuana, applauds the unanimous vote of the Oakland Town Council, banning retail pot shops and pot social clubs.
Question 1 only narrowly passed, by less than 4,000 votes or less than 0.5%, but the vast majority of Maine towns, two-thirds, saw a majority of its voters say "No" to Question 1. The vote by the Oakland Town Council reflects the will of Oakland voters, but more importantly, sets forth a powerful message for the youth of Oakland that the town places the values healthy youth and communities over the false promises from the out of state Big Marijuana forces.
"We expect Oakland is the first of many Maine communities that will listen to their voters and say "No" to pot shops and social clubs in downtowns and on Main Streets." states MPOYC Chair Scott Gagnon. "Our coalition is actively engaged in supporting any and all communities looking to adopt similar ordinances or exploring moratoriums. As public health experts, we know the power of setting positive community norms in the ongoing efforts to combat and prevent youth substance use addiction. Oakland, through their vote, has set a community norm that the health of their youth is more important than a few extra dollars on the ledger."
Meanwhile, with the State of Massachussetts just recently voting on a 6 month moratorium to push back its implementation date from January to July 2018, MPOYC calls for Maine lawmakers to adopts a similar measure here in the state. The coalition maintains there are many issues to grapple with when it comes to Question 1, particularly those concerning public health and the health of Maine youth.
"The reality is that our state and local systems are simply not prepared to regulate marijuana in a way that would truly protect our youth." Gagnon stated. "There is a huge learning curve here for everyone involved and nine months simply is not enough time. We think this really requires two legislative sessions, to work out all of the details and loopholes. We must prioritize the health and safety of our communities over the interests of the marijuana industry."
Yes on 1 Continues to Frustrate the Will of Maine Voters
Maine's Public Safety Commissioner: Maine can keep pot illegal and avoid making the same mistake as Colorado
I’ve spent my 50-year career in public safety and the military trying to protect and keep people safe. Some of the most challenging things I have dealt with were not actions of individuals but the consequences of political decisions. With Question 1, which would legalize recreational marijuana, you get to decide whether this law goes into effect. If it does, I can assure you the unintended consequences will be many.
As a naval officer during the Vietnam War, I saw young men devolve into addiction — first with marijuana and then with harder drugs such as heroin. As Waterville police chief, I saw parents neglect their children and watched as young people let their ambitions wallow in a haze of marijuana smoke. As commissioner of public safety, which includes Maine State Police, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and Maine fire marshal’s office, I read reports almost daily about marijuana-related incidents, crashes and crimes.
Among all the false claims made by the pro-legalization campaign, advocates have said police officers need to spend less time going after marijuana users and more time arresting serious criminals. Let’s be clear: Marijuana is already decriminalized in Maine. Offenders receive a citation. They are not arrested for simple possession, and marijuana possession is a very low priority for police officers. Click here to read more....
by Scott M. Gagnon, MPP, PS-C as published in the Lewiston Sun Journal, October 30th, 2016
Question 1 would make youth pot possession lawful, and that’s just the beginning.
In 2014, Lewiston voters were presented with a ballot initiative that would’ve “legalized” the possession of marijuana within the city. During that campaign, DC-based Marijuana Policy Project spent tons of money and littered Lewiston streets with misleading campaign signs. Without any organized opposition, Lewiston voters rejected legalization by 10 points. Now, MPP is back with Question 1.
Lewiston rejected legalization because they knew it was wrong for youth and neighborhoods. But as bad as that initiative was, Question 1 is much worse:
First, as revealed by Maine’s Attorney General, if Question 1 passes, it would become lawful for youth under the age of 21 to possess and use up to 2.5 ounces, or 140 joints, of marijuana. Buried on page 28 of the 30-page bill is the repeal of Maine juvenile law that makes youth possession of marijuana illegal. With that law off the books, youth possession of marijuana will be legal. You won’t see this detail in the summary of Question 1 on the ballot and the Yes on 1 campaign continues to deny that it is there.
Question 1 would open pot shops across Maine, selling marijuana gummy bears, lollipops and other potent, kid-friendly edibles. This is Big Marijuana’s moneymaker in Colorado and is how they use the Big Tobacco playbook to hook future generations of customers.
There are no health or safety standards for edibles and there are no penalties in the bill for dispensaries that sell to minors. This will lead to more youth addiction. Studies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse show one in six youth who use marijuana will become addicted.
We don’t have enough treatment resources for our current addiction crisis. Why now pass a law that creates more addiction?
Next, Question 1 does nothing to protect motorists from impaired drivers. There are no prohibitions in Question 1 against driving while smoking or consuming. We would see the increase in marijuana-involved fatal car crashes they are seeing in Colorado, all while having no additional resources or technology to police impaired driving.
The bill would be a nightmare for employers. It specifically prohibits them from penalizing employees who use marijuana in a location other than the workplace. This would be a problem when employees consume shortly before work, thereby putting co-workers at risk and forcing employers to assume high liability risks.
This is just the tip of the iceberg with Question 1. We encourage voters to learn more about the risks posed by Question 1. On Nov. 8, get out to the polls to vote no on 1. Help us protect our youth and communities.
Scott M. Gagnon, MPP, PS-C is a certified prevention specialist and the campaign manager for No On 1: Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities. He can be reached at email@example.com
Maine Voices Column by Peter J. Sacchetti, M.D, as published in the Portland Press Herald, October 28th, 2016
YORK — Marijuana was approved in Maine for medical use in 2009. I am one of a small but growing number of physicians in the state to issue certificates to patients with qualifying conditions.
In my practice, I have witnessed marijuana’s positive effects on a variety of disease states. While cannabis holds an important place in my doctor bag, I am judicious when issuing certificates and seldom jump to recommend it as first-line therapy. Marijuana consists of a class of chemically complex species with enormous therapeutic potential, but people must be educated and receive guidance on its use – something the medical community currently provides.
While I endorse marijuana for medical use, I strongly oppose Question 1. Widespread recreational use will have negative consequences for the welfare of Maine and the health of its citizens. Among the many organizations that share this opinion are the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Maine Medical Association.
The most flawed argument for legalization is how it would improve public health. The “Yes on 1” Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol declares: “Many Mainers cannot access medical marijuana because they do not have one of the few qualifying conditions or cannot afford a recommendation. Question 1 will expand access to thousands of Mainers who don’t currently qualify.”
I take offense at the idea that thousands would be self-diagnosing and self-medicating. We don’t allow this with prescription medication, so why should cannabis be held to a different standard? Imagine the chaos and catastrophe that would ensue if people could get any medication without a prescription.
Marijuana is not a benign drug. We know that long-term exposure alters brain chemistry and rewires neural pathways. While these changes are beneficial for some, they are dangerous in others. A young man visiting Denver dove off a hotel balcony to his death in 2014 after ingesting a marijuana cookie.
I highlight this incident to reveal a sinister side to cannabis that often escapes public awareness. Numerous studies point to a higher prevalence of psychosis among habitual users. The research also shows that marijuana serves as a catalyst to developing schizophrenia in a vulnerable subset of the population.
Besides deranged thinking, marijuana can cause a myriad of adverse reactions such as palpitations, wheezing, chest pain, vomiting, slurred speech, memory loss and slowed reaction time. A growing number of motor vehicle fatalities have been attributed to pot-impaired drivers. Its chronic inhalation can lead to emphysema or lung cancer. In other words, marijuana has the potential to do real harm.
The obesity rate for Maine now stands at 30 percent, up from 18.9 percent in 2000. As a country, we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic. How will that demographic transform if marijuana becomes legal? Experience tells me that it would dramatically worsen.
I have yet to meet someone who became stronger, moved faster or fell a pant size from routine marijuana use. Just the opposite – the science behind cannabinoid receptor activity on appetite stimulation supports this observation. Meanwhile, some epidemiological data suggest that marijuana has a paradoxical effect on weight that is not well understood. The point is, stakes to our health care system couldn’t be higher and we just don’t know.
Another concern is the impact that legalized marijuana might have on the illicit prescription drug trade. The majority of those using marijuana for medicinal reasons take it for pain relief. For many in my practice, I have been able to reduce or discontinue narcotics by adding medical marijuana.
In the proposed setting, hundreds of these patients could be treating themselves with marijuana without disclosing it to their physicians, while continuing to receive the same amount of prescription narcotic. Extra pills open the door to diversion.
Marijuana is not a single drug. Each strain contains the active compounds THC and CBD and a symphony of minor ones called terpenes. The unique ratio of these compounds is what gives one plant the ability to suppress seizures while another becomes better suited for nausea from chemotherapy.
Selecting the right type and mode of delivery is not a perfect science, but neither is the field of medicine. Without the assistance of professionals, treatment is fraught with pitfalls that stand to undermine the current system.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter J. Sacchetti, M.D., has a primary care practice in York and is a physician member of the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine.