I've spent my 50-year career in public safety and the military trying
to protect and keep people safe. Some of the most challenging things I
have dealt with were not actions of individuals but the consequences
of political decisions. With Question 1, which would legalize
recreational marijuana, you get to decide whether this law goes into
effect. If it does, I can assure you the unintended consequences will
As a naval officer during the Vietnam War, I saw young men devolve
into addiction - first with marijuana and then with harder drugs such
as heroin. As Waterville police chief, I saw parents neglect their
children and watched as young people let their ambitions wallow in a
haze of marijuana smoke. As commissioner of public safety, which
includes Maine State Police, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and Maine
fire marshal's office, I read reports almost daily about
marijuana-related incidents, crashes and crimes.
[continues 615 words]
This paper acknowledges "the U.S.'s long war on drugs has been a
dismal failure." On November 8, Maine voters will have the opportunity
adopt a rational marijuana policy.
Question 1 would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for adults 21
and over. It contains strong protections for kids, employers and
landlords; provides local controls; prioritizes Maine farmers and
businesses; expands access for all adults; and protects our m-edical
marijuana program that has served patients since 1999.
This initiative is about civil liberties and privacy. It's about jobs
and revenue. It's about protecting children and public safety. And
it's about addressing our addiction epidemic.
[continues 684 words]
Our biggest problem with Question 1, which would legalize recreational
marijuana, is how more drug exposure may affect our children. At
Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, Colorado, there has been 51 percent
increase in children under age 18 needing emergency room treatment for
marijuana-related conditions over the last two years. A lot of these
kids are getting their marijuana by ingesting marijuana edibles -
candy, cookies, lollipops. Do you want pot shops and pot bars opening
up next to your schools, churches, houses, parks and
[continues 188 words]
Rutland, Vermont, unwittingly became the poster child for America's
drug epidemic several years ago. The national attention and a sense
that their city had bottomed out galvanized local residents and
leaders to fight back. They formed committees, made lists of
recommendations and, most important, set goals. Project Vision hasn't
eradicated heroin from Rutland, but it offers a "take back our
community" template other communities can model.
In Bangor, like Rutland, groups of concerned citizens have been
meeting for years to address addiction in the area. A working group,
created by the Bangor City Council in 2014, developed a list of
specific, achievable recommendations. The Bangor Community Health
Leadership Board, which helped coordinate a community forum in 2014
where the federal drug czar, Michael Botticelli, spoke of the need
for treatment to help opiate addicts, is focusing on five of them. It
has developed pain medicine prescribing protocols for use by local
medical facilities. It pushed for a new local detox facility, which
is funded in the drug legislation passed last month by the
Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Paul LePage. It is seeking
ways to make the anti-overdose drug Narcan more widely available. The
group also worked with local lawmakers to draft legislation aimed at
making treatment more widely available and effective.
[continues 529 words]
I've wanted to write a post about demonizing marijuana use for a while,
but my views are controversial, so I've kept them to myself. I've
written quite a bit about our state's addiction epidemic, though, and
I'm beginning to feel disingenuous about ignoring the marijuana debate
as a piece of that story. As I read about Bangor Public Health's forum
on the "pitfalls of legalization of recreational marijuana," my
conscience tugged at my fingers.
You see, I am a lot more concerned about the pitfalls of not legalizing
and have been for years.
[continues 654 words]
PORTLAND, Maine - The conflict between two groups seeking to place
recreational marijuana legalization questions on the 2016 state
ballot continues to deepen as signature-gatherers take to the streets.
After months of negotiations - which the leader of one of the groups
characterized as a sham - failed to achieve a compromise, animosity
between Legalize Maine and the Marijuana Policy Project made its way
to the streets and storefronts of Portland, as the two organizations
each work to gather more than 60,000 signatures required to place
their questions on the November 2016 ballot.
[continues 1472 words]
By Jamie Comstock, Special to the BDN Posted Aug. 17, 2015, at 8:50 p.m.
Let's break down some myths about marijuana:
Myth 1: Marijuana use is harmless. Today's marijuana is far more
potent than the plant of the past.
New strains are being crossbred to produce higher levels of
tetrahydrocannabinol "" the chemical responsible for marijuana's
effects "" than ever before, with some reaching 20 to 30 percent THC
(as compared with the average 1 percent THC in the 1970s).
[continues 690 words]
Regarding Scott Gagnon's May 7 BDN blog post, the drug war is a cure
worse than the disease. Children of inmates are at risk of
educational failure, joblessness, addiction and delinquency. Not only
do the children lose out, but society as a whole does, too.
Incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders alongside hardened criminals
is the equivalent of providing them with a taxpayer-funded education
in criminal behavior. Prisons transmit violent habits rather than reduce them.
Nonviolent drug offenders are eventually released, with dismal job
prospects because of criminal records. Turning drug users into
unemployable ex-cons is a senseless waste of tax dollars.
[continues 67 words]
This Friday at the State House, the Committee on Criminal Justice and
Public Safety will have a work session on LD 113, An Act to Reduce
the Penalties for Certain Drug Offenses. The bill is sponsored by
Senator Roger Katz of Kennebec. The bill, in part, looks to downgrade
punishments associated with possession of heroin and methamphetamine,
two drugs that have been especially problematic in Maine. The bill
would downgrade possession of these Class W drugs from a Class C
Felony crime to a Class D Misdemeanor crime.
[continues 519 words]
BANGOR, Maine - A local group of medical marijuana patients is
renting a space downtown where they can smoke or ingest their medicine.
A group calling itself the 13 Owls Club is renting on an hourly basis
the VIP smoking area above the recently expanded hookah lounge run by
the Herbal Tea & Tobacco shop in the heart of the city, Herbal Tea
owner Christopher Ruhlin said during a recent interview.
"We have doctors, lawyers and architects, and these people depend on
a discreet, professional environment," said Ruhlin, adding that he is
a medical marijuana patient advocate and a member of the club.
[continues 1048 words]
Last week saw the launch of a second initiative to put a question on
the 2016 Maine ballot to legalize recreational marijuana. This effort
would run alongside the stated intent of the Washington, D.C.-based
Marijuana Policy Project to gather signatures and also put a question
on the 2016 ballot.
Some media outlets are framing this as Mainers having two choices for
legalizing marijuana in Maine. But the truth of the matter is they
will have three choices on how marijuana policy moves forward in
Maine. A third choice will be to reject marijuana legalization of
both varieties and move forward with a public health-oriented
approach that doesn't create a third legalized drug.
[continues 613 words]
Imagine this: Two defendants, same age, smoke joints with some
friends one July evening in their apartments. Neither has a criminal
record. Both get caught; one faces an extra two years in jail.
Why? Because he shared drugs within a certain number of feet from a
school that's been out for a month.
The so-called "Drug Free School Zone" is one of many laws that create
extra penalties for already illegal acts with no reasonable tie to
the public's safety or the defendant's particular circumstances.
[continues 775 words]
FORT KENT, Maine - Earlier this month, the possession of marijuana for
nonmedical use became legal in Portland. This, and other sporadic
discussions about marijuana legalization in Maine, has shifted the
focus of an Aroostook County-based organization that works to curb
substance abuse among young people.
Now, besides teaching youth about the dangers of drunk driving, they
are paying more attention to how marijuana can impair motorists when
they get behind the wheel.
Michelle Plourde Chasse, Community Voices project manager, said in the
past, Community Voices and similar groups have focused on alcohol when
talking about impaired driving prevention over the past two or three
[continues 504 words]
PORTLAND, Maine - An ordinance legalizing possession of marijuana for
nonmedical use in Maine's largest city goes into effect Friday.
Last month, Portland voters approved by a wide margin the legalization
measure, which allows individuals 21 or older to carry 2.5 ounces or
less of the drug according to city rules.
While medical use of marijuana has been legal in Maine since 1999, and
larger scale medical marijuana dispensaries have been legal since
2009, the Portland ordinance is the first in the state to legalize pot
for recreational purposes.
[continues 553 words]
PORTLAND, Maine - Two days after Portland police said they would "use
their discretion" to enforce state law regarding possession of
marijuana, the group that spearheaded passage of a new city ordinance
legalizing recreational use of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana said
they expect police to yield to the will of the people.
On Tuesday, more than 67 percent of Portland voters approved of a new
city ordinance to legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of
marijuana in the city. The law will become effective on Dec. 6, 30
days after the vote.
[continues 248 words]
Tom MacMillan PORTLAND, Maine - A push to legalize recreational
marijuana in Maine's largest city appears poised to go before Portland
voters this fall.
A coalition of political groups and activists who want make possession
of the drug legal for adults turned in a petition Thursday with more
than 3,200 signatures, twice the 1,500 signatures needed to place the
measure on the November ballot.
Led by the Portland Green Independent Committee, the coalition
submitted the petition to city officials, paving the way for voters to
weigh in on the citizen initiative this fall. The city has 15 days to
review the signatures and certify the petition.
[continues 511 words]
In the history of the city of Lafayette, Colo., my resignation
probably went down as one of the more memorable. I left my position as
a municipal court judge in protest of a proposal to increase the
penalties for marijuana possession in the city. Some people agreed
with my stance, some disagreed, but I suspect the majority of people
probably found it frivolous: Did this guy really give up such a
powerful position just so he could smoke a doobie in the afternoon?
[continues 596 words]
This letter is in response to a March 29 column called " Marijuana
legalization: An easy way out, " by Dr. Robert Q. Dana at the
University of Maine. Dana apparently assumes drug prohibition keeps
people from using drugs.
Drug prohibition does not keep people from using drugs. If anything,
it facilitates drug use by turning distribution and sale over to drug
dealers who will sell anything to anybody.
For at least the past 30 years, teens have reported that it is easier
for them to get marijuana than alcohol. To buy alcohol you need to be
of legal age and prove it. To buy marijuana all you need is money. We
need legal regulated sale so we, not drug dealers, are in charge of
distribution and sale.
[continues 149 words]
AUGUSTA, Maine - A bill that would let Maine voters decide in a
statewide referendum if the state should legalize marijuana for
recreational use saw dozens of people testify before the
Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Friday.
Those who support the law change said prohibition doesn't work and
the country's 30-year war on drugs has been a failure.
"As a fiscal conservative I'm very concerned about useless government
programs that create waste and waste taxpayer dollars and increase
the deficit," Ashley Ryan of Portland told the committee. Ryan is a
national committeewoman for the Maine Republican Party.
[continues 1096 words]
Robert Long, Bangor Daily News Maine | Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at
4:20 pm AUGUSTA - A bill to legalize recreational use of marijuana and
regulate it like alcohol in Maine has garnered 35 co-sponsors and now
heads to a legislative committee hearing.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, would make
major changes in Maine's drug law, ranging from making possession of
up to 2.5 ounces of pot legal to imposing a tax of $50 per ounce. It
was referred to the Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety
Committee on Wednesday.
[continues 566 words]