One of marijuana's greatest challenges on its journey to legalization has always been NIMBYism, and the state of Maine is now giving out funds to address the problem.
Several local government initiatives have been harmed by the use of the term "not in my back yard." People tend to support the construction of jails or mental health facilities, as long as they do not reside in their neighborhoods.
Maine was ahead of most of America when citizens voted to legalize recreational cannabis in November 2016. However, the Maine Act to Legalize Marijuana allowed municipalities in the state to decide whether or not to be a "dry town" in terms of dispensaries and social clubs.
The funny thing about giving your citizens the choice is that they now have the right to choose, and Mainers are strongly opposed to permitting dispensaries in their neighborhoods.
According to the state's Office of Cannabis Policy, 93% of municipalities in the state have said "not in my backyard."
According to OCP Director Erik Gundersen, Maine's Adult Use Cannabis Program has been strong. However, the benefits are still only being realized by about 7% of Maines cities and towns."
Maine has a strategy to persuade these towns to change their votes.
Cash is cold and hard.
Maine does not require smokers to smoke.
Maine began a program to "recompensate" municipalities and towns for the expenses associated with establishing adult use facilities within their borders earlier this month.
Maine is putting aside up to $20,000 per municipality that elects to participate in the Maine Adult Use Cannabis Program. The state has launched an online portal for applications to be reimbursed.
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Attorney's fees, staff research time, draft and revise cannabis ordinances, fees associated with providing notice of election and public meetings, town meetings, and elections, as well as the compilation and publication of results are some of the expenses eligible for reimbursement.
Gundersen appeared to have a message addressed to the state's NIMBYs who didn't want marijuana in their yards.
The truth is, cannabis is being bought, sold, and consumed in any town, whether it has opted in or not.
The most important thing we can do is to ensure that Mainers who choose to use cannabis can do so in a well-regulated environment that protects public health and safety in the best possible way. Taking this next, huge step to encourage Maine cities and towns to participate in the regulated adult use market is the most effective way to do just that.
The Cannabis Industry in Maine is booming.
According to a spring 2022 study by the Advocates for Human Potential, about 64% of marijuana used by users in Maine comes from a licensed or legal source.
According to the AHP findings, "Maine is likely to effectively curb the illicit market at a greater rate than most other states."
Maine has been able to achieve this success in part through its non-explanatory literature, but it did find that those who prioritize their weed use it highly and those who are younger are more likely to acquire their cannabis from dispensaries, and have been transitioning to that strategy since at least January 2021.
The study also found that zip codes with one or more dispensaries were associated with a "significant increase" in legal cannabis purchases.
According to the study, the presence of an adult-use store might encourage consumers to obtain some of their cannabis from a regulated market.
So, it appears Maine's NIMBYs have a choice.
Keep dispensaries out and have their residents smoke, but this weed will be from unauthorized dealers. Or allow dispensaries to be in the city, reduce the use of the illegal market, and make $20,000 apiece.