GUEST VOICE: Marijuana Is Not The Enemy, Establishment Politics Is

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Planning Board Chair Art Weber appropriately noted that there was enough public input to push the advisory opinion until the next Planning Board meeting, on September 14th. He also noted that he imagined that as more press was published, and more people became aware of the issue, that it would become a pressing one for the town. He stated that maybe the best idea, going forward, would be to form a committee, compiled from town residents, that could effectively inform the Board on this issue, though that idea would wait to be discussed until the meeting on the 14th. The ordinance was therefore postponed, and the danger to the community, in my mind, was at least put aside until the next meeting. Once the Planning Board meeting adjourned, I introduced myself to the various men on the Planning Board, as well as the Town Planning Director, Ron Wolanski.

Having just moved back to the Island after living in Brooklyn, New York for the last three years, I only recently became active in local politics. During my undergraduate career at the University of Maine, I worked for four years as a sensible drug policy advocate, traveling to conferences throughout the United States and Canada, learning the best ways to deal with drug use and abuse. Even with all this experience, I was still unclear following the Planning Board meeting if the ordinances would be on hold until the 14th. Mr. Wolanski assured me that it would not be addressed until then. He, however, was unaware of the partner licensing ordinance.

That ordinance, which works to effectively limit the town from providing licenses and permits to any businesses that would violate local, state or federal law, would be raised before the Town Council during their meeting less than a week later, on August 15th. That meeting lasted over four hours, and for less than a minute they discussed the ordinance, which was titled “An Ordinance in Amendment to the Town Code of the Town of Middletown, Title XI Business Regulations, Chapter 110 General Provisions, Section 110.01 Issuance and Renewal of Town Licenses and Permits”. This title makes absolutely no mention to marijuana, unlike its partner ordinance before the Planning Board. After thirty-six seconds, the Town Council moves on.

Thirty-six seconds is how long the Council spent on deciding to create an undue burden for sick patients. Thirty-six seconds is how long the Council spent on deciding to maintain an illegal black market when a safer, regulated market is being proposed. Thirty-six seconds is how long the Council spent deciding whether or not to adopt hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual tax revenue. Uproar ensued.

I was under the assumption, based on my discussion with Mr. Wolanski, that these ordinances, which were both introduced together to “manage any changes in the laws related to medical or recreational marijuana,” were both on hold until the September 14th Planning Board meeting. A quick scan of the August 15th Town Council agenda revealed no mention of marijuana or cannabis at all, though it was there, tucked away amongst the fifty other items of that four-hour meeting.

I worked quickly to organize Middletown citizens of varying shapes, sizes and ages to mobilize against the passing of this ordinance, which could potentially ban additional compassion centers from opening their doors in Middletown. Apparently, as the Town Administrator, Mr. Brown, notes during the July 18th Town Council meeting, they hope to never open any additional compassion centers in Middletown. Clearly Mr. Brown is unaware of the medicinal benefits provided by the drugs sold at these compassion centers, and the illnesses for which they are recommended. If he was aware, then he most certainly wouldn’t be working to create undue burdens for patients recommended medicine by licensed medical professionals.

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