Pubdate: Fri, 01 Nov 2013
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 2013 MaineToday Media, Inc.
Author: Dave Canarie
Note: Dave Canarie of South Portland is an
attorney and an adjunct faculty member at the
University of Southern Maine School of Business.


There Are Many Compelling Reasons Not to Legalize
Pot in the City. There Is No Good Reason to Do So.

The message of Portland's marijuana referendum is
clear: If a city doesn't like a state law, it can
simply vote to ignore it. That's a dangerous precedent.

After all, why should a city comply with an
unpopular law when it can follow the =93Portland
model,=94 supported by the American Civil Liberties
Union of Maine, and vote to exempt itself?

Following this model, if a town with a casino
wants additional revenue, it could vote to
=93legalize and tax=94 prostitution, despite state
law to the contrary. Some towns could refuse to
follow Maine's marriage equality law. Others
could allow 18-year-olds to buy alcohol. Our
rights could change every time we cross into the next town.

By legalizing marijuana, Portland would reject a
law enacted by the Legislature. If individual
towns are able to decide which state laws to
follow and which to ignore, Maine would have an impossible patchwork of


There is no need for legalization in Portland,
where possession of 2.5 ounces of marijuana or
less is handled like a routine traffic ticket.
Portland police reported about 50 citations for
marijuana last year. Many of those involved
possession in public or of more than 2.5 ounces

=96 which would still be prohibited under the Portland ordinance.

Legalization puts the Portland Police Department
in the impossible position of being asked not to
enforce laws they have sworn to enforce. What
good can possibly come from that confusion?


If Portland legalizes pot, it will become a
marketing destination for pot dealers.
Portlanders will have to engage the criminal
marketplace to obtain marijuana. They will have
no idea where their pot is coming from or where
their money is going, and could unwittingly
support criminal distribution networks that extend to other drugs.

Legalization will make Portland a magnet for
users; people will come to Portland to smoke
legal pot. The problem is they may be driving
home while high on pot =96 or perhaps driving after
drinking and smoking pot. A 2012 British Medical
journal study found drivers high on pot had two
times the risk of being in a car crash compared with drivers who were not

Advocates of legalization perpetuate a myth that
marijuana is safe to smoke. That's why
legalization will undermine decades-long efforts
to reduce smoking and drug abuse among youth.

There are already ads on buses that promote the
supposed advantages of pot smoking. Glorification
of marijuana will expand dramatically when Big
Tobacco, and the emerging Big Marijuana industry,
start advertising pot with sophisticated campaigns.

Youth who view marijuana advocacy ads perceive
pot as being less dangerous, which makes them
more likely to become users. Marijuana use by
Portland youth increased between 2009 and 2011,
during the campaigns for medical marijuana.

Youth are more likely to become addicted to pot,
and marijuana use is associated with poor
academic performance. Youth who smoke marijuana
are two to four times more likely to experience
psychotic episodes, according to a 2010 study in
the Archives of General Psychiatry. Want to know
about marijuana's impact on youth? Don=92t ask a
lobbyist for the marijuana industry; ask a
teacher, a substance abuse counselor or a
pediatrician. Those groups don't support
legalization, and for good reason. Maine has a
serious problem with substance abuse, and
legalizing marijuana expands access to a drug
that can be abused. Marijuana use will inevitably
rise. Increasing numbers of people are seeking
treatment for marijuana abuse in the U.S. and
elsewhere, according to a RAND study. This is not
surprising =96 marijuana is more potent today than
in the hazy 1960s and '70s. In 2012, there were
almost as many treatment admissions in Maine for
marijuana as there were for heroin. There were
more treatment admissions for marijuana than
crack cocaine, methadone and bath salts combined.


Big Tobacco can't believe its good fortune with
the emergence of legal marijuana. After decades
of declining cigarette use, the legalize pot
movement is throwing Big Tobacco a lifeline and a
new product to sell. Tobacco companies are
reserving marijuana-themed Internet addresses and
developing pot marketing plans. Venture
capitalists are getting in on the action, too, eyeing cash windfalls.

The legalize-pot movement is doing the groundwork
for big businesses that will profit from
legalization. Some may smell the aroma of
marijuana with legalization =96 but others smell money, and lots of it.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom