Firstly, I would highly recommend that anyone that has any question about how the bill is worded to refer to the bill itself and for your convenience I list it first. http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/citizens/marijuanaleg.doc It is my opinion everyone should be fully informed when they go to vote. So please read the bill yourself as well. .
Before I go into both the positive aspects and negative aspects of Maine’s question 1 bill. Let me briefly tell you who I am and what cannabis is to me.
I am a disabled Navy Veteran with fibromyalgia and after the VA system failed me with my pain not managed well and with developing suicidal inclinations my life change after I tried cannabis. Cannabis saved my life. My pain has never been better managed than with it has been with cannabis. I was also able to get rid of all my pharmaceutical medications as cannabis could treat me better than the three-page list of active meds the VA had me on. I have now been a legal medical cannabis patient for three years and now I grow my own medicine over the last year. For more on how cannabis saved my life; this is my personal story. https://fibroman.com/2016/02/27/cannabis-saved-my-life/
To go over both the positive and negative aspects of this bill I am going to reference the bill as linked above by page number and sections. I had intended on writing this article sooner, but life got away from me.
- Page 9. Section 2447: License Application and Issuance. There are a few parts of this that I don’t agree with starting with this line “operating a retail marijuana establishment or retail marijuana social club without state licensing authority and municipal approval.”
- My issue with this is municipal approval. This mean that any municipality can prohibit any or all of these types of cannabis establishments. Meaning if for example Lisbon decided they did not want any retail cannabis cultivation in their town limits they could enact this type of ordinance. Personally, I don’t feel this is something that a municipality should be able.
- Page 9. 2447: Section 1. Qualifications. Part C “A person who has had a license for a retail marijuana establishment or retail marijuana social club revoked may not be a licensee.” If you also look at the last line of the of the introduction of this section (2447) it reads “If an application is not approved by the municipality, the state licensing authority shall revoke the license.”
- This is what I have an issue with is that if you don’t get approved by your town for a license to open a retail cannabis business then you get your license revoked. Then as per part C you would not be able to get another license. Unless I read that wrong.
- Page 9. 2447 Section Qualification Part B. “A person who has been convicted of a disqualifying drug offense may not be a licensee. For purposes of this paragraph, “disqualifying drug offense” means a conviction for a violation of a state or federal controlled substance law that is a crime punishable by imprisonment for 5 years or more. “Disqualifying drug offense” does not include an offense for which the sentence, including any term of probation, incarceration or supervised release, was completed 10 or more years prior to application for licensure or an offense that consisted of conduct that is permitted under this chapter.”
- Basically, if previously you have been convicted of growing cannabis, for example, you will not be allowed to legally sell cannabis now that it is legal to sell cannabis. To me, that make no sense at all.
- Page 11. 2447 Section 3 Part C-3. “The number of retail marijuana establishments or retail marijuana social clubs allowed in the municipality has been limited pursuant to local ordinance or is limited by subsection 7 and the state licensing authority has already licensed the maximum number of retail marijuana establishments or retail marijuana social clubs allowed in the municipality for the class of license that is sought.”
- This is more of the same with municipality having too much control over the retail cannabis market and is also re-emphasized on page 12 (2447.Section 4)
- Page 12. Part 5-B. “Placing or modifying a limit on the amount of production permitted by a retail marijuana cultivation facility license or class of licenses based upon some reasonable metric or set of metrics, including, but not limited to, previous months’ sales, pending sales or other reasonable metric as determined by the state licensing authority.”
- This is seriously over micromanaging.
- Page 12. section 2447. Part 6. “Limitation on retail marijuana cultivation facility size. The amount of space approved for marijuana cultivation at retail marijuana cultivation facilities is limited to 800,000 square feet of plant canopy, unless the state licensing authority determines that a greater amount may be needed to ensure an adequate supply to meet demand for various strains of marijuana throughout the State. An applicant must designate on the applicant’s operating plan the size category of the licensed premises and the amount of actual square footage in the applicant’s licensed premises that will be designated as plant canopy.The state licensing authority shall license 2 types of retail marijuana cultivation facilities, those with 3,000 square feet or less of plant canopy and those with more than 3,000 square feet of plant canopy. The state licensing authority shall license marijuana cultivation at retail marijuana cultivation facilities by unit blocks of 10 feet by 10 feet, or 100 square feet, of plant canopy”
- This is kind funky. To regulate by canopy size if strange to me. I understand that they want to regulate it, but why by canopy size? Why not plant count? Mind you this is for retail growing and not personal use or medical use. I know some of the arguments against this is that cannabis is safe and does not need this kind of regulations. While I personally agree with that current state law prohibit all growing for retail sales. This part of the bill I feel will eventually change as the need for more cannabis arises.
- Page 20. Section 2448 Part 11. “License terms. All licenses under this chapter are effective for one year from the date of issuance.”
- If every year these businesses need to renew the license I would worry about bureaucracy slowing down renewals. Although in subsection D has the provision to allow the licensing authority to extend the expiration date. This could mean that the one-year license could change but it could also stay the same.
- Page 26. Section 2453 Part 1. Unlawful acts subsection B, “Buy, sell, transfer, give away or acquire retail marijuana or retail marijuana products.”
- This part is slightly more confusing than it appears. Let me explain. As part of this bill you may give away up to 2.5 oz of cannabis to someone else as long as you don’t get money for it. You may also give away plant to people as well. But if you buy an infused product you can’t give it away?
- Page 6. Section 2444 Part 2. “Adoption of rules. The state licensing authority shall adopt rules for the proper regulation and control of the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, sale and testing of retail marijuana and retail marijuana products and for the enforcement of this chapter, not later than 9 months after the effective date of this Act,”
- What I like about this is that if it passes then no later than 9 months after voted in there should be recreation cannabis on the market for purchase.
- Page 7. Section 2445 “Independent testing and certification program”
- I like that the recreational cannabis grower cannot also be a lab. This ensures no conflict of interest in altering lab results.
- Page 9. Section 2447 Part 1-F. “First priority for licensure must be given to registered caregivers who have been continuously registered with the Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act or who have experience serving as a principal officer or board member of a nonprofit medical dispensary registered with the Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act. If an applicant, either a business entity or an individual, owns, has a financial interest in or controls the management of more than one dispensary in this State, that applicant may receive preference for only one license in each license class.”
- The people currently legally growing cannabis for medical use are going to be give priority in issuing licenses to grow recreational cannabis. This is definitely a positive part of this bill.
- Page 10-11. Section 2447 Part 3-B. “. An applicant may apply for and be granted more than one type of license except that a person licensed as a retail marijuana testing facility may not hold any other retail marijuana establishment license. Registered caregivers and registered dispensaries who have held a registration in good standing for 2 years by the date of the application must be given priority in the granting of licenses for a retail marijuana cultivation facility, retail marijuana products manufacturing facility or retail marijuana store license.”
- This has two good part in my opinion. It restates that labs won’t be growers as well and it also restates about caregivers and currently dispensaries being given priority in issuing licenses for operating in the recreational side.
- Page 12. Section 2447 Part 4. “The state licensing authority may not limit the total number of retail marijuana stores in this State.”
- This means that the licensing authority for the state cannot limit the number of stores in the state. Although as mentioned in the cons; municipalities will be able to limit within their jurisdiction.
- Page 12. Section 2447 Part 6. “…with 40% of all licenses issued going to licensees of 30 unit blocks or less.”
- I understand this part is controversial. As some are worried that big marijuana is going to come take over. However, I see this as a minimum number. Meaning that it is a protection to make sure that small grow operates as well as big operations to prevent that complete takeover. I do understand larger grow operations do tend to have less specially and less quality as it is mass produced. I won’t argue that smaller operations will provide a higher quality and more specialized produce. However, some people are going to want cheap cannabis that is not specialized and does not care as much about quality. There are people that like cheap box wine and others that like fine aged French wine. There is room for cannabis between all spectrums of quality and specializations.
- Page 14. Section 2448 part 3-C. “A person must be 21 years of age or older to make a purchase in a retail marijuana store.”
- While I understand, cannabis is a safe herb that will not harm children and has proven medical benefits for many children a bill without the measure of restricting age of people to use cannabis recreationally is unlikely to get support from people outside the cannabis community. This is also only a restriction on retail stores and not medical dispensaries. If this bill pass I would recommend trying to get this part amended to allow any minor with a valid medical card to make purchases in a retail store as well because retail stores are going to end up with more choices.
- Page 23. Section 2449 Part 1 Local licensing. “….Nothing in this chapter prohibits the registered voters of a municipality from calling for a vote on any regulations adopted by a municipal legislative body.”
- Now it has been established now my opinion on the municipalities having control over if a retail cannabis store can open. What I like here is that if a town does prohibit retail cannabis the voter can overturn the municipality decision.
- Page 23. Section 2449 Part 3. Notice and portion of fee must be given to municipality.“50% of the licensing fee to the municipality in which the establishment or club is to be located.
- Even though I don’t think a municipality should have the jurisdiction to tell someone that they can or cannot open a legal cannabis business; I do like that the town and cities will get some of the money from the recreational cannabis market. This could improve road and schools along with many other things.
- Page 25. Section 2452 Personal use of Marijuana. Parts 1-2. “Person 21 years of age or older. A person 21 years of age or older may:
- Use, possess or transport marijuana accessories and up to 2 1/2 ounces of prepared marijuana;
- Transfer or furnish, without remuneration, up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana and up to 6 immature plants or seedlings to a person who is 21 years of age or older;
- Possess, grow, cultivate, process or transport up to 6 flowering marijuana plants, 12 immature plants and unlimited seedlings, and possess all the marijuana produced by the plants at the adult’s residence;
- Purchase up to 2 1/2 ounces of retail marijuana and marijuana accessories from a retail marijuana store; and
- Purchase up to 12 seedlings or immature plants from a retail marijuana cultivation facility.
- Home cultivation. The following provisions apply to the home cultivation of marijuana for personal use by a person who is 21 years of age or older.
- A person may cultivate up to 6 flowering marijuana plants at that person’s place of residence, on property owned by that person or on another person’s property with written permission of the owner of the property.
- A person who elects to cultivate marijuana shall ensure the marijuana is not visible from a public way without the use of binoculars, aircraft or other optical aids and shall take reasonable precautions to prevent unauthorized access by a person under 21 years of age.”
- This I like and because it allows any adult over 21 to be able to grow their own cannabis. So, if you are worried about cannabis being taken over or want to make sure you have a special strain you are legally allowed to grow it yourself. This makes sure everyone in the state of Maine will be able to grow their own cannabis. Current laws only allow medical users like myself to grow cannabis. I not a huge fan of the restriction of not visible as I feel that is unreasonable but this is something that could be fought after you obtain the legal right to grow in the first place.
- Page 27. Section 2454. Construction. Part 1. “Relation to the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act. This chapter may not be construed to limit any privileges or rights of a qualifying patient, primary caregiver, registered or otherwise, or registered dispensary under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act.”
- This is the most important aspect of this entire bill to anyone who currently is a medical cannabis card holder. Or anyone that in the future that wants to apply for a medical card. They will still be protected by the medical use act. This will allow minors with qualifying medical conditions to still have access to medical quality cannabis. As currently written it is making sure both the medical side and recreational adult use of cannabis remain separate. This is how it should be and how I hope it will remain. I know there is a fear that the two programs may merge, but this is not written into the bill and if it is attempted I am sure there will be enough resistance to keep them separated. While having legal recreational cannabis ensures anyone that want to use cannabis to treat any medical condition that cannabis can help will have access regardless if the condition is on the approved list or not.
- Page 27. Section 2454. Part 3. “School, employer or landlord may not discriminate. A school, employer or landlord may not refuse to enroll or employ or lease to or otherwise penalize a person 21 years of age or older solely for that person’s consuming marijuana outside of the school’s, employer’s or landlord’s property.
- This is a very important part of this bill. This makes sure that adults have the right to use cannabis and not be punished by their school, employer or landlord if off the property of those entities.
- Page 28. Section 2454. Part 4. “Person may not be denied parental rights and responsibilities or contact with a minor child. A person may not be denied parental rights and responsibilities with respect to or contact with a minor child as a result of acting in accordance with this chapter, unless the person’s conduct is contrary to the best interest of the minor child as set out in Title 19‑A, section 1653, subsection 3.”
- This is also a provision in this bill that will expand people rights as currently cannabis can be used against you to take away your children.
- Page 28. Section 1817. Part 2. “Sales tax on retail marijuana and retail marijuana products. The sales tax on retail marijuana and retail marijuana products is 10% and is the only tax charged on the sale of retail marijuana and retail marijuana products at the point of final sale at a retail marijuana store or retail marijuana social club.
- I am okay with that taxation of cannabis for retail sales. The tax revenue of the sale of cannabis is an argument that has been used to persuade the non-cannabis user to vote for cannabis legislations. What I would not agree with is the over taxation of cannabis that would cause it to become too expensive to purchase. A 10% Tax is reasonable in my opinion.
There may be some other pro and cons in this bill I missed. Maybe some of my pros are on your con list or vice a versea. What is important is that you are informed about the choice you are going to make when you cast your vote. This bill is not perfect, but neither was the medical bill when it first came out. That took work by a lot of people for many years before I was even aware cannabis was medicine. So, I don’t think the perfect bill will come along. There is always going to be something that people don’t like in a bill because you cannot please everyone. This bill seems to prevent the complete takeover by ensuring that at least 40% of all retail grows will be small grows to keep a lot of small business in Maine.
In my opinion, if you currently use cannabis or want to; you should vote Yes on question 1. This will give you the legal right to grow cannabis yourself and keep all of what you grow only limited by state grow limits. This will allow anyone worried about coming out of the cannabis closet legal protections on the state level. Still, does not change the laws the federal government has, but no state bill has that power. If this bill passes it will also let anyone use cannabis medically that is currently unable to. Even though Maine has one of the best medical programs in the country our list of approved medical conditions is not fully comprehensive to the number of medical conditions that can be treated by cannabis. Question 1 gives every Mainer that right to use a natural medical-legally and this bill will protect the current medical program. I know there is a fear that one day the two programs may merge and it might be tried like happen in Washington State. I feel that since this bill does not mention or even hint at this along with having the protection of the medical program in the bill that if a merge were attempted it would be fought.
Other things that are likely to happen if question 1 passes in Maine. We will most likely see more cannabis refugees, cannabis tourism, and cannabis medical tourist. More people will come to Maine other will likely move to Maine. These things could all help our economy, create jobs, and could help shift the tide of the states mean age range. As Maine’s youth tend to move away looking for jobs and better economy. States that legalize adult use of cannabis also get to have more cannabis festivals and cannabis cups hosted in their state.
With more states legalizing adult use of cannabis this makes it possible for the medical patient to also travel more freely than they currently legally can. As right now not every medical cannabis state recognizes out of state medical cards. Where a state that allows all adults to use cannabis has no restrictions on if a medical user can use cannabis or not. One day I would like to be able to travel with my own medications and not need to worry about state borders, but that is not the environment we live in.
My recommendation is that if you are still unsure if you want this bill to pass or not is to read the bill as linked to at the top of this article and go over all the facts. Based your vote on an informed decision while leaving out any what ifs. When you look at all the cons of the bill you must ask do they make you want to say no? Do the cons out weight the pros? This is a choice each person voting must make for themselves. I would also recommend looking at the opinions of both the yes and no sides as well. Find out their concerns and determine if they are your concerns as well, but in the end, make the choice for yourself.
Spread Cannabis Knowledge!