For years, Maine has been called the Pine Tree State. As you drive around this beautiful state today, you will quickly understand why the Pine Tree has been replaced by the marijuana leaf on the state flag. Okay, that did not .really happen, but with the number of pot shops springing up in every city and town, it makes one wonder where we are heading
As we get off RTE 95 in Auburn and drive the twenty miles to our cabin in Hartford, we pass at least seven shops and two more under construction. They seem to appear on every corner, just as convenience stores did years ago. It makes you wonder if everyone in this state is searching for a bag of Doritos. I jest, but honestly, it makes me question how many people driving with me are impaired by the latest special offered at their favorite shop.
This new industry is a money grab by the state that has been so desperate for funds that they have taxed Girl Scout Cookies and campsites in the past. Maine’s medical marijuana market brings in more money than blueberries, maple syrup, apples, elvers, herring, and oysters combined. Marijuana sales are third behind only the Lobster and Potato industries. Many cities are generating revenue by running lotteries where interested entrepreneurs buy a chance to win one of the limited marijuana retail licenses. The town of Kittery recently raised nearly two million dollars by running such a lottery.
Whether you are looking for “flower,” or the recognizable green buds that can be rolled into a joint or smoked through a pipe; pre-rolled joints; edibles, such as THC gummies or chocolates; tinctures, or THC oil that is dropped under the tongue for effect similar to that of edibles; vaporizer cartridges, containing THC oil; and cannabis concentrates, which look like wax, you local budtender is waiting to serve you. Having never indulged, I have no reason to enter one of these shops, but I know I would be overwhelmed and confused by the offerings.
I realize this is a revenue boom for the state, but I wonder at what cost. I am not naïve to believe that pot was not available before the shops became legal. But is it so in your face now that the user base will grow exponentially? These shops are on main roads, and all have large signage advertising their specials and new offerings. Marijuana is regulated for users over 21, just like alcohol in the state, but is the industry attracting people, especially the younger crowd? Has there been an impact on the number of impaired drivers on Maine’s roads? A lot of questions and not many answers.
I don’t condone the government entering the legal drug trade. But I am an adult and believe in rights and choices. If this is a way to regulate the delivery and quality of marijuana to users and may put illegal dealers out of business, then it may be doing a public service. If it creates a “high” populace and harms productivity and health, I think it is a wrong decision. We may have to circle back in a few years to see how this new industry has impacted the great state of Maine.