Good morning from Gardiner. I spent last night at the forum on Question 1 organized by CBS 13 and the Bangor Daily News, which was marked by division among medical marijuana activists on the benefits of legalizing recreational use of the drug.
The panel was traditionally divided: Representing legalization proponents were Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, and Alysia Melnick, while Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson and prevention specialist Scott Gagnon, the chairman of Smart Approaches To Marijuana, represented the opposition.
Question 1 would allow Mainers to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, while giving the state regulatory power over cultivation and retail stores and assessing a 10 percent sales tax on marijuana products.
If it passes, Maine would join four other states that have already legalized marijuana. But Maine is among the half of states with systems that allow patients to use medical marijuana bought from state-licensed dispensaries or caregivers — those who can grow it at home — for certain conditions.
Though the bill makes no formal changes to that system, some caregivers think legalization would erode their program, and members of that community caused a stir at Thursday’s forum, which featured a live audience.
It made for a strange dynamic: Milo caregiver Dennis Hammac, whose unaccredited detox facility treating people addicted to opiates was just featured by Vice, and conservative activist Penny Morrell of the Concerned Women of America in Maine wore “No on 1” stickers.
Melnick said the referendum would lower costs and open the market to some people who could use medical marijuana, but haven’t been able to a get a doctor’s recommendation for marijuana. Some doctors are prohibited from recommending it because of federal rules.
“In one vote on Nov. 8, we can change that,” she said.
But it was Gagnon who got applause from caregivers and traditional opponents with a retort: “The idea that we need to pass Question 1 to grant greater access to medical marijuana, well, let’s work on the medical marijuana law because that’s what it’s there for.”
The hour-long debate is worth a watch, and it shows that this issue is more complicated than the legalization debates that we’re used to. — Michael Shepherd
Bangor: Maine’s political capital (for eight days)
Maine’s 2nd Congressional District is gaining attention in presidential politics as Republican nominee Donald Trump opened up a wide polling lead there in September, threatening to be the first member of his party to win Maine since 1988.
Bangor, the second-biggest city in the district, will see visits from each campaign over the next eight days.
- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is stumping at the Cross Insurance Center today for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at 10:30 a.m. Former Maine Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, an Allagash Democrat and Sanders ally, will introduce Clinton’s former primary rival-turned-surrogate. Democratic 2nd District candidate Emily Cain will also speak.
- Trump will rally there next Saturday, Oct. 15. He’s trying to hold his wide September polling lead in Maine’s 2nd District. You can register online for tickets to that rally. His son, Eric, and Eric’s wife, Lara, swept through the 2nd District on Thursday.
- And don’t forget Libertarian vice presidential nominee William Weld. He’s holding a town hall on Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Spectacular Events Center on Griffin Road to boost Gary Johnson’s campaign. Tickets are available. — Michael Shepherd
- The Bangor Daily News endorsed Clinton over Trump on Friday. Our editorial board calls the election a choice “between voting for someone committed to a life of public service who has the experience, the intelligence and the temperament to lead the nation versus someone who is committed only to himself, who lies constantly and who regularly displays a lack of self-control.” The Portland Press Herald has also endorsed Clinton. No major newspaper has endorsed Trump, which is unprecedented, according to Yahoo. But does it matter? Political science research shows that newspaper endorsements can be effective when they’re surprising — if an editorial board breaks with its normal party to support another candidate. Many of these endorsements aren’t surprising, as Trump is breaking political norms.
- The BDN and AARP are bringing U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and former Sen. George Mitchell to Bangor this month, too. They’ll be part of the Dirigo Speaks series, with Collins, a Maine Republican, speaking on Tuesday at Husson University. Mitchell will follow on Oct. 20. The events are free and you can register now. — Michael Shepherd
- Portland took complaint about building two years before deadly fire, but inspector never went in — Jake Bleiberg, BDN
- Hurricane Matthew now Category 3, still threat to Florida— David Ovalle, Jenny Staletovich and Nicholas Nehamas, Miami Herald
- Hurricane Matthew closes in on Florida as Haiti death toll rises — Scott Malone and Gabriel Stargardter, Reuters
- Where Maine ballot question campaigns are getting their money — Darren Fishell, BDN
- DEP to add third-party monitoring to controversial metal mining proposal — Anthony Brino, BDN
- Dam near national monument lands needs $230,000 in repairs — Nick Sambides Jr., BDN
- New state regulations on fishing lures expected to save Maine loons — Aislinn Sarnacki, BDN
- Maine drug abuse prevention program again seeks funding — Jen Lynds, BDN
- Maine Military Authority workers receive layoff notices ahead of bus contract meeting — Brino
Best of Maine’s Craigslist
- Are you a beautiful white woman? Prove it, difficultly: A man wants “a pretty white female to talk to” platonically and “you must provide proof you are beautiful” by making “a video showing you juggling 4 red balls, one green ball, while wearing a party hat, standing on one high heel and the other in the air, wearing a t-shirt saying TRUMP SUCKS.”
- Do you want a past-prime salad? Someone is giving away a salad allegedly from an Ellsworth restaurant, saying “I’ll be more than happy to keep it in the back of my fridge just like (the restaurant) did for me.” Elvis also once addressed salad. Here’s your soundtrack. — Michael Shepherd