No campaign to legalize marijuana is left without an opposition, and things are no different in Maine as the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol continues to raise funds to get their message out to the public before November’s election. A group calling themselves Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities is made up of healthcare professionals, law enforcement, clergy and of course, concerned parents – but once again the arguments they are putting up are nothing new.
There are quite a few fallbacks for those who run anti-legalization campaigns, but lately the biggest one has been the concerns about the children. One of the things that gets brought up again and again – despite the many studies saying otherwise – is that legalization will increase the rate at which our youth become users of marijuana. Whether it’s preschoolers accidentally eating a THC infused gummy or a teen getting bud with a fake I.D., it’s always one of the first “go-to” reasons in these situations.
Scott Gagnon (spokesman of Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities as well as chairman of Smart Approaches to Marijuana) has already used both of these as examples. He tried to use edibles and emergency room trips with young children at first – to which David Boyer (spokesman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol) responded that those studies are inconclusive; especially considering after legalization people are more likely to be honest with a doctor about whether or not marijuana may have been involved.
The next issue that Gagnon brought up was that the initiative did not outline any penalties for anyone who sells marijuana to minors. To which Boyer stated simply that they did not feel the need to add that as it is already illegal and will remain illegal after the referendum passes. Honestly, I’m not sure that any legalization laws passed in the U.S. so far have specified that, as it is really a common sense kind of thing – it was and still is illegal to use if you are under 21 and the sale to minors remains illegal, as it is with alcohol.
Other criticisms of the initiative included: not having regulations on marketing to minors (even though the referendum actually forces marijuana based publications like High Times behind the counter at any store not selling to adults only), packaging, dosage or testing. Gagnon went so far as to say that “In many ways, this initiative is worse than what was passed in Colorado,” and he also compared it to creating “Big Tobacco 2.0” – but I want to point something out here. Oregon and Alaska are still ironing out some of those details while offering limited access – and their laws, just like the Maine referendum, leave it up to lawmakers to create those specific regulations based on industry knowledge coming from the states who have legalized already.
It allows a person 21 years of age or older to possess, use or purchase one ounce or less of marijuana and grow not more than 6 marijuana plants for personal use at that person’s home. It requires the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations to adopt and enforce rules governing the production, transportation and sale of marijuana and marijuana products, including in areas such as security, testing, labeling and packaging. – Taken from Maine’s Legalization Referendum Summary
All in all, for the most part, Maine has a pretty good referendum to vote on this year – and regulations are absolutely a better solution than prohibition, as it clearly doesn’t work. These guys are worried about whether or not there is a specific penalty for someone selling to a minor with a fake I.D. when right now, a 15 year old is probably meeting up with his supplier to get a new bag, no I.D. required, no questions asked. Hopefully, the voters of Maine will think of these things, rather than all the diluted statistics that the opposition is feeding them once November comes.