Maine has had its fair share of challenges trying to roll out legalization. And now the Pine Tree State is going to have the distinction of being the first state in the country to license cannabis social clubs (yay!)—where weed cannot be smoked (boo!).
Maine’s Cannabis Social Clubs
So what can people do in these social cannabis clubs apart from socializing? Edibles and tinctures, which frankly doesn’t sound too sociable unless you want to be there all night.
Maine’s law regulating recreational pot is under consideration in the state’s capital, Augusta, and is being delayed by ornery legislators to at least June 2019. That’s a full year after Maine’s retail stores are meant to open.
Not thrilled with the delay, legalization advocates are just happy that club licensing was not totally stripped out of the bill, which is a legislative rewrite of last November’s successful initiative.
While the bill does not expressly prohibit smoking in the social clubs, it does nothing to protect cannabis from falling under Maine’s statewide no-smoking laws. Like most other states with this kind of law, Maine’s regulation prohibits smoking of any kind—including vaping—in public places.
This means that cannabis social clubs would be limited to selling edibles or tinctures, said state Sen. Roger Katz (R-Augusta), co-chairman of the Legislature’s Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation. He cited public “health concerns” as the rationale for the rule.
Lawmakers apparently are striving to keep their cigarette smoking ban intact, which is understandable. However, marijuana and cigarettes are two very different substances.
Cigarettes Kill, Cannabis Heals
National health data shows that cigarettes contain many dangerous chemicals, including 43 carcinogens that have been proven to contribute to addiction, cause cancer and are responsible for killing nearly 480,000 Americans every year and another 42,000 due to second hand smoke.
Oh yeah, and cigarette smoke also contains formaldehyde, a highly toxic chemical used to embalm corpses.
And we all know how many deaths cannabis has caused this year and every year: NONE. ZERO. ZILCH.
Get this: Maine allows cigar smoking in bars. The National Cancer Institute states that “cigar smoke is possibly more toxic than cigarette smoke.”
Advocates: Treat Weed Like Alcohol
Advocates in Maine simply want cannabis social clubs to have the same rights as alcohol and tobacco clubs. A city like Portland should be able to license a marijuana club with a rooftop patio that would allow outdoor smoking, said advocate David Boyer.
“We have social clubs for alcohol, and they are called bars,” said Boyer, director of the Maine chapter of the Marijuana Policy Project. “Bars can have outside smoking patios. And cigar clubs, they certainly allow smoking. Marijuana is safer than either of those substances.”
Admittedly, marijuana social clubs in the United States are still navigating uncharted territory, while they successfully flourish in several European countries like Spain and the Netherlands. But treating cannabis like alcohol should not be such a huge deal—and that is all many advocates are asking.