The commercial marijuana production and distribution championed in Question 1 will not be a wave of prosperity for Maine farmers, small communities or the rural economy.
It is clear that this referendum, intentionally or unintentionally, targets areas of Maine where law enforcement capabilities are widely dispersed, requiring oversight from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry whose expertise in food crops, public recreation, land management and forest production has little connection to the far reaching legal and law enforcement demands of this major departure from any of Maine’s traditional resource-based industries.
There are many legal loopholes in Question 1. For example, the referendum proposes to let municipalities regulate the number, location and operation of retail marijuana social clubs and establishments, including cultivation facilities and stores. Yet, nearly half of Maine, including the majority of Maine’s islands, has no municipal government. The Land Use Planning Commission that is within our Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry serves the townships and plantations across the state, conducting many of the functions of municipal government. Although local residents in these rural areas have a voice in local land use activities, Question 1 does not provide the commission or local residents authority to regulate marijuana. Residents in half of Maine will have no say over whether marijuana developments can locate near them.
Passage of Question 1 will divert our department’s attention from supporting Maine’s nationally leading growth and diversity of young farmers. The referendum necessitates the remake of the department based