Question 5 not the answer? The argument against it
Conflict of interest. Three simple words with one big meaning behind the Maine Medical Marijuana Initiative, also known as Question 5. That was the central theme of a conversation between ballotpedia.org and Question 5 opponents Don Christen and Don LaRouche. Both men, members of the Maine Citizens for Medical Marijuana, gave their firm stance on Question 5, the measure that asks voters: “Do you want to change the medical marijuana laws to allow treatment of more medical conditions and to create a regulated system of distribution?”
Despite their support for the medicinal use for the drug, LaRouche and Christen, both medical marijuana patients, oppose the measure due to, according to their campaign flyer, the initiative’s omissions of:
- “Authorization-by a diagnosis of an illness or symptom that marijuana may be beneficial in their therapy."
- “Protection for Doctors/State licenses if needed and requirement for Doctors to work with patients who request to use marijuana for their therapy.”
- “Amount patient can possess needs to be increased.”
But the biggest issue the two men have with Question 5 is the government’s “conflict of interest”. According to them, the Department of Health and Human Services would oversee dispensaries if the measure is passed. This, for them, is where the conflict comes in.
According to Christen: “The main reason to vote this bill down is because we don’t want the DHHS coming in to interfere when they don‘t even want medical marijuana. We’re not against dispensaries, we’re against the DHHS coming in a setting fees. We’re not criminals, people know that I’m a caregiver, and if they need it, they can call me and I can provide them. That doesn’t make me a criminal. You know if an old lady who needs medical marijuana has been in a neighborhood for a long time, her neighbors know her and could help her out. In the big cities, there could be problems with criminal activities, but this is Maine.”
LaRouche concurred with his fellow campaign member when he stated that the if the question passes, it could hurt the overall cause of getting patients‘ their medicine. According to LaRouche: “We’re not asking for money, we’re not Washington, we’re not Massachusetts, we’re not California, we’re not Rhode Island. This is Maine, we’re the highest taxed state in the country and if this measure is passed, dispensaries are going to be charged $5,000 to produce medical marijuana. And then they’ll be charged by the county and town for approval. That could add up to $10,000. Then who is going to want to become a caregiver? Is the guy across the street who owns a lumberyard going to help us? Pharmacists aren‘t even charged $5,000 for their license.”
LaRouche has been a strong opponent of medical marijuana due to his experiences with muscle spasms and glaucoma. According to the Madison, Maine resident, he feels no side effects from the drug, and stated that he feels no pressure in his eyes when he smokes it. Christen, who also suffers from back spasms, went into detail about the trouble of growing the right amount allowed by current law, and how the new proposed law leaves out a revision to this. LaRouche quickly chimed in: “If you’re even a tenth of a gram over the legal limit, the DHHS is going to get you. They can go into your house, search it. You could lose your children. Children have been taken away.”
Christen then came in with his thoughts, keeping with the conflict of interest argument: “We want to keep this out of government bureaucracy as much as we can. The DHHS doesn’t want this to work, so why should we put in in their hands?”
Whether or not Question 5 is passed, a future strategy is already in the works. The men stated that two petitions have been started, one by the Maine Citizens for Medical Marijuana, which would include the aforementioned omissions by Question 5, and another by Maine Vocals, which would end marijuana prohibition altogether. Both petitions are targeting the November 2010 statewide ballot, according to Christen.
With so many uncertainties surrounding Question 5, at least one thing is for sure: Even after the November 3 election, the state of Maine hasn’t seen the last of the cannabis plant issue.
- LaRouche and Christen stated that their website is currently under construction. Information about their efforts can be found at mainevocals.net.