Maine: Legalization Initiative Would Force Merchants To Hide Marijuana Magazines
By Steve Elliott
Maine's Marijuana Legalization Act, which has qualified for November's ballot and is being sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), would require merchants to keep marijuana magazines behind the counter if their stores are open to customers younger than 21.
An almost identical provision which was part of a bill passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2013 was so blatantly unconstitutional that Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said the state wouldn't enforce it, reports Jacob Sullum at Reason.com.
Yet, just three years later, MPP is asking Maine voters to approve the same restriction as the price they must pay for the state's "legalization" initiative.
The Marijuana Legalization Act which will be on the Maine ballot in November says "a magazine whose primary focus is marijuana or marijuana businesses may be sold only in a retail marijuana store or behind the counter in an establishment where persons under 21 years of age are present."
That provision "attempts to strike a balance" between freedom and "community standards," according to MPP's David Boyer, the initiative's campaign manager. "The community has the opportunity to approve it, and if members of the community wish to challenge a particular provision within it, they will have that right, just as they would with any other law," Boyer said.
As pointed out at Reason.com, that's quite a contrast to the way MPP's communications director, Mason Tvert, viewed the behind-the-counter rule for cannabis magazines in 2013:
"We applaud the attorney general's decision to declare as unconstitutional this absurd rule that marijuana-related publications be treated like pornographic material," MPP's Tvert said at the time. "The idea that stores can prominently display magazines touting the joys of drinking wine and smoking cigars, yet banish those that discuss a far safer substance to behind the counter, is absolutely absurd.
"The fact that legislators passed this rule despite being informed it is a gross violation of the U.S. Constitution demonstrates the bigotry that still exists with regard to marijuana," Tvert said in 2013. "It is time for our elected leaders to get over their reefer madness and recognize that a majority of Coloradans—and a majority of Americans—think marijuana should be legal for adults."
The MPP initiative in Maine originally didn't have such a restrictive rule. But when, last fall, MPP decided to merge its efforts with Legalize Maine, a group of medical marijuana growers, that restriction was imported from the Legalize Maine language.
"But that promise is bound to be broken, since the restriction is unenforceable," Sullum writes.
Graphic: Ganja Farmer's Emerald Triangle News