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Maine Could Put Marijuana Journalism Off the Shelves

© Josh Chastek / Stock Pot Images

After the struggle to get signatures properly validated and finally being approved for the ballot this November, a worrisome line of Maine’s proposed constitutional amendment has come to light. The particular line would force retailers who sell marijuana-focused magazines (such as High Times and Cannabis Now) to keep them behind the counter and out of view unless their shop is open exclusively to adults 21 and older.

Maine’s Marijuana Legalization Act, which recently qualified for this November’s ballot, 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.”

Now, this measure would not prevent minors from buying the magazines – however anyone looking to purchase them would have to ask the sales clerk if they sell it in order to obtain a copy. While this may not seem like a big deal to some, it is for many as this is potentially a huge infringement on First Amendment; and essentially treating cannabis publications as though they were the same as pornography, while beer, wine and liquor flaunt front pages.

This is not the first time something like this has been seen – in 2013 Colorado passed a bill that enforced the exact same thing. Back then, Colorado’s Attorney General fought against the bill with the same argument, that it was completely unconstitutional. His efforts were praised by Marijuana Policy Project Director of Communications Mason Tvert – and now they are backing and actually helping to run Maine’s Marijuana Legalization Act campaign.

However, that provision in particular was a part of the initiative written by Legalize Maine before they joined efforts with the Marijuana Policy Project. When the two merged, that piece of writing happened to stay in the amendment – supposedly as a way to bring “balance” between freedom and community. When asked about the measure David Boyer, the initiatives campaign manager said,

“The community has the opportunity to approve it,” Boyer said, “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.” 

Will this provision matter to voters? Will they vote against the bill because of something like this or pass it and take action once the plant has reached legal status? Personally, I would love to see this initiative pass, and finally see a state on the east coast legalize, but once it passed I would like to see someone fighting to get this particular measure removed from the amendment. It really is a tricky thing because no one likes seeing the First Amendment being ignored – but is it okay to give in, even a little, temporarily, in order to see a greater win in the end?