Maine is now home to a cannabis-themed radio show, an hourlong mix of music and talk that is co-hosted by a high-profile medical marijuana caregiver.

Dawson Julia, the owner of a medical marijuana shop in Unity, will tackle a different topic every week on the Cannabis Connection, which airs from 6-7 p.m. on Mondays on WFMX-107.9 The Mix. He is joined by on-air personality Chris Rush and a different special guest each week, ranging from a state representative who works on state medical cannabis legislation to a nurse practitioner who certifies medical marijuana patients to a criminal defense lawyer.

Julia came up with the idea last year while listening to disc jockeys on the Augusta-based station talk about whether Maine cannabis users can buy a gun. (No, federally licensed firearms dealers can’t sell guns to people who use cannabis, even in states that have legalized it for recreational or medical use.) Julia said he was surprised at the open and honest nature of the on-air debate, and the level of interest from listeners who called the station to share their views.

“Nobody was talking stigma talk,” Julia recalls. “The question – would you give up your ganga for your guns – that got people’s attention, like a lot of cannabis stuff does, but really, people just wanted information. I thought, I can give them that. So yeah, we want to entertain them, but in between all the songs, we are gonna educate them, and hopefully, once they have the facts, we’re gonna activate them.”

In January, station owner Jay Hanson said he was open to the idea of a cannabis-themed show so long as the station’s lawyer gave him the thumbs up. He thought that legalization of recreational marijuana in Maine had raised public interest. “You just knew Maine was going to do this, put this on the radio, it was just a question of when,” Hanson said at the time. “I think the time for it is now.”

The Cannabis Connection launched Feb. 19. In its first month, it has been a mix of pre-recorded and live segments, with about 20 minutes of talk spread over one hour, sandwiched between ads for Taunton Bay Soap Company and Waterville Opera House and songs by Selena Gomez and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The show’s main sponsor is Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, a statewide trade group on whose board Julia sits.

On Monday, Julia welcomed Tom Ferris, a criminal defense attorney from Waterville, who talked about the federal prohibition on gun ownership for marijuana users and the uptick in people being charged with driving while high. Julia and Rush urged Ferris to educate listeners about the laws, but also weighed in with comments about the Draconian nature of what they believed to be unfair restrictions on consumers’ civil liberties.

“So I could have 100 cases of Jack Daniels in the back of my truck and it’s totally legal, but if I have more than 2.5 ounces of a plant that is not lethal, non-poisonous and pretty much non-addictive, I could be charged with a criminal charge?” Julia asked. When Ferris answered yes, something Julia already knew, Julia replied: “That’s crazy, if you ask me.”

While Julia would eventually like to expand the talk section of the show, he thinks the heavy music rotation will probably draw in some listeners who have no experience with cannabis at all, giving Julia and his guests the chance to deliver an auditory vaccine against what he likes to call “cannabis stigma syndrome disorder.” However, he doesn’t mind sprinkling the show with some wink-wink, nudge-nudge cannabis humor.

At the beginning of Monday’s show, listeners were welcomed by a famous clip from the 1970s parody, “Beyond The Valley of the Dolls,” where Porter Hall tells Susan Lake, “I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn that all four of them habitually smoke marijuana cigarettes – reefers!” In between the Eddie Money songs, listeners also got a hit of Sublime’s “Smoke 2 Joints” and Dash Rip Rock’s “(Let’s Go) Smoke Some Pot.”

“With the Cannabis Connection comes meducation,” Rush told listeners. “A lot of things people don’t really know as far as the laws these days. Things are changing.”

Penelope Overton can be contacted at 791-6463 or at:

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