By Ashley Berry, Liberal Arts – Political Science
This coming year Maine voters will have the option of legalizing marijuana.
There are two initiatives that have been filed by two groups, The Campaign to Regulate
Marijuana Like Alcohol and Legalize Maine. Although both groups submitted initiatives that
would legalize the great herb recreationally, they both have different methods of regulating the
drug. However, there are a few proposals the initiatives have in common.
The first is that often, what is of most concern to people is that no one over 21 will be
able to purchase, consume, or possess marijuana. Both initiatives also allow adults to grow
marijuana at home if they’re feeling the green thumb vibe. Most importantly, neither initiative, if
passed, would change laws regarding driving while impaired. An important factor for anyone
who currently has a medical marijuana prescription is that neither initiative will change any
existing medical marijuana laws. So no worries for anyone who tokes up for medicinal purposes.
The differences between the entities come into play in ways like regulatory agencies, home
cultivation limits, personal possession, and statewide retail limits.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has a personal possession limit of
one ounce while Legalize Maine puts the amount at two and a half ounces, which anyone who
enjoys the ganja will tell you is a perfectly reasonable amount. Legalize Maine has significantly
more reasonable amounts regarding home cultivation. The limits are six flowering plants, 12
non-flowering plants, and unlimited seedlings. They would also allow an unlimited amount of
retail stores. Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has a limit of 6 plants total. That’s an extremely
small amount and wouldn’t allow for very successful personal cultivation.
The regulatory agencies are drastically different between the two initiatives: Legalize
Maine naming the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry; the other initiative
naming the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations. Regulate Marijuana Like
Alcohol has a cap on retail stores: they would allow 70 retail stores until 2019, 95 stores until
2020, 120 stores until 2021, and local control after 2020.
Legalize Maine is a smaller, grassroots campaign. The President of the Board of
Directors is Paul McCarrier, a born-and-raised Maine resident. He spent three years at the
University of Southern Maine and then left to start an internship in the medical marijuana
industry. From 2011-2014, McCarrier was a legislative liaison for Medical Marijuana Caregivers
of Maine. In 2014, he left that group to start Legalize Maine.
David Boyer is the campaign manager for The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like
Alcohol. There is significantly less information available about him or their team on the group’s
website. Looking at the breakdown between the two groups it becomes obvious that the
aforementioned group would work in favor of “big money.”
One of the differences between the two campaigns is how much money is required to
start up in the business. For example, Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has an application fee of
$3,000 Legalize Maine’s application fee is substantially less at $250, a much more reasonable
amount. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol would then have initial fees that
vary depending on what sector of the business a person was looking to get involved in. For
example, if someone was looking to open a retail store they would have to come up with
$12,000 on top of the $3,000 application fee. This wouldn’t include the costs associated with
finding a storefront, hiring employees or any other of the costs that are involved in opening a
business. The retail store would then have to pay ⅓ of the initial costs on an annual basis.
Legalize Maine’s fees would be $2,500 for a retail store that they would pay on an annual basis
as well. The fees associated with opening a business are much more reasonable with Legalize
Maine’s campaign. It would be significantly more feasible for the average person to start a
business under their initiative. Isn’t this America, where everyone deserves the chance to get
ahead and “make it” regardless of where they came from?
Looking at the statistics, The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol would
legalize marijuana and give the profits to big business. Legalize Maine would legalize marijuana
and create an industry that residents of Maine could feasibly be involved in. This would keep the
profits here in Maine, as well as create profitable livelihoods for many small farmers.