The stark contrast between the two proposed marijuana legalization referendums was made painfully apparent at the Common Ground Country Fair.

Legalize Maine, the local grassroots organization sponsoring the version of the referendum that supports local farmers and care providers, showed their deep understanding of the rural culture of Maine by doing the right thing. They signed up for a table in the Social and Political Action tent at the fair, paid their fees and settled in for the weekend to talk to folks about the referendum and get their support and signatures.

Marijuana Policy Project, the Astroturf corporate referendum, behaved in the way we would expect an out-of-state, out-of-touch organization to behave. Its signature-gatherers did not pay for a table, opting instead to set up in the middle of walkways, blocking foot traffic and being generally disruptive and obnoxious.

After being told repeatedly they were not allowed to collect signatures anywhere but at a paid-for table, they moved onto the side of the road just off the fairgrounds where they impeded traffic and generally made a nuisance of themselves.

Some even lied about the initiatives and got people to sign under false pretenses. This is somewhat understandable, since this corporate group pays their signature-gatherers $3 per signature — more than twice the going rate.

So I ask people to do two things. First, when approached by a signature-gatherer, people should make sure they are signing what they are told they are signing. And second, people should think about which group they really want running a recreational marijuana program in Maine — homegrown activists who have been at this for quite a while, or a fly-by-night corporate tax-and-regulate bully.

Betsy Garrold


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