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 firstname.lastname@example.org