Pubdate: Sat, 28 Apr 2001
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2001 Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Associated Press
Bookmark: (Hemp)
Cited: Maine Vocals


POWNAL  Pownal, a town of 1,491 known for its church suppers, soon may be 
home to annual rock festivals promoting the legalization of marijuana.

The marijuana advocacy group that started Hempstock in the town of Starks 
plans to hold two weekend concerts this summer at Andy Jordan's farm on 
Elmwood Road. The Cumberland County Hemp Festival is set for June 22-24, 
and the Sweet Leaf Fall Festival is scheduled for Sept. 14-16.

The concerts will feature two dozen bands and are expected to draw between 
3,000 and 5,000 people, according to Don Christen, president of Maine 
Vocals. Tickets will cost $30 each and the money will be used to advocate 
for the legalization of marijuana, for both medicinal and recreational use.

Since 1990, Maine Vocals has been holding summer concerts each year in the 
Somerset County town of Starks, population 578.

Christen said the group wants to expand to southern Maine to take advantage 
of the large population.

In March, voters in Starks approved noise limits, which Christen said makes 
it difficult for the concerts there to grow. Two concerts are planned for 
the summer in Starks.

The group held concerts in the Kennebec County town of Vienna, population 
527, for two years but stopped holding them because of low attendance.

Maine Vocals plans to ask the Pownal Board of Selectmen on Monday for a 
permit. Christen said the group has a constitutional right to assemble, and 
selectmen, who met with the town's attorney, agree.

Selectman Lauren Tuttle Jr. said the group could hold the events if they 
comply with the town's 2 1/2-page-long mass gathering ordinance.

"We don't want it," Tuttle said, "but if they meet the criteria, we'll let 
it go. We've got to."

Jordan, who is a Pownal native, is leasing his farm to the group to make 
some money. He said he doesn't smoke marijuana and wouldn't want his 
children to, but that he wouldn't condemn anyone who does.

But Jordan's neighbors don't have such a lackadaisical attitude. Some met 
with selectmen earlier this week.

"I don't feel we need that element," Roger Hanna said. "I'm probably 
prejudiced. I'm 65 years old. But I don't want druggies around me at all."

Hanna said he's worried that the concertgoers might chop down for a bonfire 
some of the 1,000 trees and shrubs he planted next to Jordan's farm. He 
also worries that the woods around his home could catch fire.

Most of the problems at the concerts in Starks have stemmed from 
intoxication, according to Detective Lt. Carl Gottardi II. He said that the 
concerts have become much better organized recently and that the group 
advertises that no alcohol is allowed.

"They've done a fairly good job of keeping control of things," he said.

John Archard, Vienna's code enforcement officer, said there were few 
problems at the concerts. But town officials were glad nonetheless when 
they stopped.

"It's just one less thing to deal with in a small town," he said.
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