In November 2016, the citizens of Maine voted to legalize recreational marijuana use by the narrowest of margins. The Christian Civic League was part of a successful effort to impose a moratorium upon the commercial aspects of this market which will expire on February 1, 2018.
The legislature subsequently created the Marijuana Legislative Implementation Committee [MLI] to formulate the laws and regulations of commercial/retail marijuana sales. Governor LePage’s veto of the MLI’s suggested bill was sustained this past September. While the MLI bill did address important concerns, many who oppose legalization felt the bill did not go far enough to ensure public health and public safety. Neither did the bill tackle necessary reforms to the existing medical marijuana statutes.
From that point, I decided to accept an invitation to join a coalition of diverse stakeholders (both pro and con marijuana) to offer an amendment to the MLI bill. The other key opponent of the legalization of marijuana in this coalition is Scott Gagnon, of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which represents public health workers and others who oppose the legalization and normalization of marijuana.
Scott and I both would support any viable effort to repeal or stop the legalization of recreational marijuana. At this time, we see no viable, political path to that end. Therefore, we believe the most responsible action we can take is to “have a seat at the table” and fight for non-negotiable priorities such as municipal sovereignty, prohibition of minor targeted marketing, prevention of pot social clubs, protecting landowners rights to prohibit pot usage in rental properties, and reforming existing medical marijuana laws.
I want to remind you, this is a political process. While there may be part of the MLI bill and our suggested amendment that Scott Gagnon and I may not like, our priorities concerning public health and public safety have been appropriately respected. While such a process requires give-and-take, we will not compromise our key priorities regarding public health and public safety.
The coalition leaders know if a viable repeal option arises, we will be in the front of that line. As a matter of integrity, we’ve been totally upfront about that. At the same time, I reiterate that a simple obstructionist posture regarding the status quo leaves our state vulnerable to a much less regulated market which would not reflect our values or our concerns.
I hope this update is helpful and reminds our supporters to pray for wisdom for all of us as we navigate this complex issue. Here is a great website regarding the dangers of recreational marijuana use: https://learnaboutsam.org/