On Thursday 8th November, Maine voted yes to Question 1: legalise marijuana. As the vote only passed with 50.3%, I ask the question: do YOU wanna get high?
The new law legalizing marijuana will not come into effect for at least 90 days. This law will, subject to conditions, allow the recreational use, retail and cultivation of marijuana. All marijuana sold in Maine will be grown in Maine, and will be subject to a 10% tax. This move, in theory, should boost the economy. However, it's not quite as simple as all that.
Over the past few days I've been talking to some of Asphyxiation Point's residents, specifically Gage Dawson, the owner of "Grateful Meds" and Police Chief Jay Biafra, finding out what they think about the forthcoming changes in law.
Maybe surprisingly, Mr. Dawson is all for the new law, as he currently grows and sells medicinal marijuana from his dispensary, Grateful Meds. In a recent interview, he says he has "big plans" for the recreational use of marijuana. He's not worried about the amount of time it may take to implement the new retail laws either, saying "What is a few more years?". Not only does he believe the new law will have no effect on his medicinal marijuana business, he's also very confident in his abilities to produce good quality stuff that will continue to sell. Mr Dawson stated that he knows "what [he is] doing and there is a reason Maine has the best weed on the East Coast." Having never tried all of the weed on the East Coast myself, I unfortunately can't corroborate his opinion. It is, however, good news for locals not confident about growing their own marijuana but who would still like to smoke it!
Captain Biafra agrees with Mr. Dawson that the new law is good news. Although he thinks it will have no effect on crime rates, he believes the legalization will "drastically improve the unemployment rate, the agricultural industry and assist the state in improving various things such as schools and infrastructure through the taxes which will come from Cannabis sales". Captain Biafra makes a good point. Despite the no campaign fighting hard against it, it is easy to see the benefits to be brought by this new industry.
A local business owner is also for the new law, and is excited about the prospect of being able to sell edible marijuana in her shop. Despite this, all three interviewees echo the worry about children being able to get hold of marijuana more easily once the new law is passed. However, as Mr. Dawson pointed out, it is much like the sale of alcohol and tobacco products. Personally, I agree with him.
From my travels around the town, I failed to find anyone who voted no to Question 1. Although Asphyxiation Point doesn't seem to agree with 49.7% of the rest of Maine, it is clear that the new law, once implemented, will be good for the town. With a projected boost in trade, what can go wrong?
The answer to that is simple: the no campaign are calling for a recount of the votes. Though well within their rights to do so, I can't help but feel they are just trying to postpone the inevitable. With new studies proving the medicinal effects of marijuana and debunking the myths, the law will pass eventually, one way or another.
Only time will tell the outcome of this great debate, but this reporter will personally be happy to see the new law in place.