2016-08-26 / Community

My side of the bridge

Bob Marley is still right
By Don Russell

Bob Marley, the famous reggae singer, not the Maine comedian, was right then and is still right now about weed. Legalize it. I offer a large addendum though – leverage it. Colorado has done well with its new law, even its anti and reluctant governor admitted such, but Maine can do even better with proper controls and strategies. Alaska, D.C., Washington and Oregon are also worth monitoring to adapt and develop best practices.

In 1990, I was proud to work alongside Jack Herer in California in the promotion of his trailblazing, groundbreaking book, “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.” We also adeptly used a documentary built around an old army training and education video called “Hemp for Victory” in our public seminars. “Emperor” is a recommended read for anyone interested in the true history of this controversial subject. Since then, as of today, national polls are running about 60/40 in favor with widening gap growth each year as our parent’s generational fear and votes evolve away.

In 2013, Portland became the first city on the East Coast to approve a recreational marijuana use ordinance by a 2 to 1 margin. Maine of course is one of many, soon to be a majority of states, with medical marijuana initiatives that work fine. In 2014, South Portland followed suit with a primarily symbolic vote. And what has happened to South Portland since the vote? Has the town gone to pot-riddled hell? Crickets. Nothing. Which is a big part of the larger point – embrace the social change, safely, medically, economically and objectively.

Where is Cape Elizabeth in all of this? For starters, let’s face it, they are too Republican and ascot-starched to be so daringly and common sense progressive. Second, as one Cape Elizabeth High School teacher once told me in confidence, “Most parents are too busy burying their high income heads in the sand over a prescription drug and harder drug (cocaine, etc.) crisis then to bother with ganja.”

But the Feds, what about the Feds? Smartly and correctly, Eric Holder and company have avoided stomping on state’s rights to date and unless Nancy Reagan is coming back down to breakfast, should in the future. Eventually, when the majority of states put in measures, the Feds will follow. It is good business. It is just a matter of time. You just can’t keep a good idea down.

Supported by South Portland through its own ordinance, that idea is now called Question 1 and reads:

“Do you want to allow the possession and use of marijuana under state law by persons who are at least 21 years of age, and allow the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products subject to state regulation, taxation, and local ordinance?”

A vote ‘for’ is a vote to legalize recreational marijuana. For you fence-sitters, please pay attention to the words ‘subject to’ as I also encourage you to read and research existing precedent from current legalization states.

The pro arguments have been well vetted and only strengthen with each debate. Eliminate Neanderthal laws steeped in hysteria, racism, yellow journalism and pharmaceutical lobbying. Support countless medicinal benefits. Aid a clear marketing, employment and overall economic-driver, with taxation and regulation. Avoid victimless crimes with clogged prisons and court systems. Acknowledge that it’s far safer and less addictive than alcohol. And focus our attention and dollars on real crime, real destructive drugs. Inhale the positives, they all stick.

An old dear friend told me in April that he did not think I could wait six months with this column to get on my libertarian leaning pot legalization soapbox. Go Gary Johnson! He said the subject was just too deep in my blood. Check. Vote YES on Question 1 in November and, at least in the great state of Maine, let’s put an end to reefer madness once and for all.

Don Russell is a local real estate sales agent with The Maine Real Estate Network, and founder of BrandME Marketing. He has lived in South Portland for 20 years. Contact him at don@brandme.net or send a letter to the editor to editor@inthesentry.com. His column appears in the Sentry once a month.

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