Franklin Countys First News

Politics & Other Mistakes: Going potty

Al Diamon

Let’s list all the businesses that Portland has too many of.

(Note to the haters: Liberals do not count as a business.)

There are too many overpriced restaurants, an excess of ultra-hip bars, a surplus of twee tea shops, more than enough brewery tasting rooms with all the welcoming atmosphere of an Amazon warehouse, and speaking of Amazon, an overflow of overpriced grocery franchises. Portland doesn’t need another coffee roaster, cheese monger, law office, ICE facility, condo development, hotel, hospital expansion, tall office building, massive redevelopment on the eastern waterfront or lame winter festival.

And yet, every one of these items is legal. Not a single ordinance prevents anyone from indulging in these enterprises, as ill-advised as such ventures might be. This is, after all, a free country, and every Portlander is at liberty to court failure.

Unless they want to sell weed.

For reasons that make as much sense as Donald Trump’s foreign policy, it may soon be easier in Portland to sell guns, liquor and products manufactured in China by slave labor than to open a retail store offering marijuana for recreational purposes. When state rules on adult-use pot kick in this spring, numerous other municipalities – including South Portland, Bangor, Auburn, Farmington, Eustis, Waterville and Hallowell – will welcome such businesses. But not Portland, which will still be too busy adding new twists to its proposed rules and regulations.

According to a Jan. 7 story in the Portland Press Herald, “The city staff wants to cap the number of retail stores allowed to sell medical or adult-use marijuana at 20, arguing that allowing any more than that would flood the market, drive down marijuana prices and make it likely that stores would fail, which wouldn’t be good for the city or the industry.”

The obvious arguments against this silly policy are that Portland has no business deciding what’s best for any particular industry, and that companies in the city fail every day without dragging down the entire economy. So, maybe Portland needs better justifications. Let’s try this staff memo issued last October, which claims the limit on pot shops is “the most prudent way to implement not only a new ordinance, but also a completely new industry in the city.”

Memo to city staff: Entrepreneurs have been selling ganja in Portland since before most of you were born. There’s nothing new about this “industry” except getting rid of a law making it illegal and substituting proposed regulations making it nearly impossible. That’s particularly true for a sizable percentage of the population, who’ll be at a distinct disadvantage in the lottery that will allocate those 20 coveted licenses to sell the kind bud.

That’s because the drawing will be “weighted,” a polite way of saying “fixed.” Preference will be given to women, immigrants, veterans, those who’ve lived in Maine for at least five years, those with experience selling reefer (but only if it’s legal experience), those with some other kind of retail background (“Welcome to Walmart”), those who had the foresight to lease or buy their retail space at least two years ago and also measured to make sure their storefront was at least 1,500 feet from any school (because scientific evidence shows that high school students won’t travel more than 1,500 feet to buy dope), those willing to donate 1 percent of their profits to the city for youth programs or addiction treatment (this is commonly referred to as a bribe), and finally, people who have at least $150,000 in readily available cash (which is a not-very-circumspect way of saying rich people).

Martha Stewart is probably more qualified for a Portland cannabis license than you.

Portland is setting itself up for a chronic (heh, heh) problem caused by too many regulations and too little common sense. As a result, the city’s black market will continue to flourish because its product, beyond the reach of bureaucrats, will be cheaper and more readily available.

Portland City Hall is way too uptight. A toke or two might help.

Also, fewer nail salons.

Email your tips for TLC for THC to

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

7 Responses »

  1. Al,

    You Finallllllllllllllyyyyyyy wrote an article that is accurate and gives all the readers another example of why we
    Must be thoughtful and careful who we vote into power in the coming election. Portland is well known as the
    Progressive capitol of Maine. It is controlled by one political party that has a very liberal view of how the hard
    Working taxpayers should be treated. I wouldn't be off base to suggest that there is some corruption mixed
    Into this set of regulations. Certainly, the folks who have been involved in the marijuana business for many
    Years got together in secret with the city council members or other officials in power and helped prepare the
    Regulations. And those business folks did all the required things years ago so that they would be well
    Positioned (purchased large storefronts in the proper locations, etc) to step right up now and apply for those
    Few permits. Of course, there will be a few women and immigrants in the mix (rich pot growers with a brain
    Will just make them minority partners) and there will be many large donations coming back to those city
    Leaders (for their re-election campaigns). This is how government works!! We all know it. But Al, you must
    Try to be more open minded in your comments!!! Your first paragraph left out some key points that all hard
    Working conservatives folks might like to see. For instance, you forgot to mention all the "non-profits" that
    Get all their money (directly and indirectly) from the hard working American taxpayers and then use that
    Money to pay exorbitant salaries for executives and to help the layabouts and Illegal Immigrants. And you
    Really should delete the "ICE facility", they are there to protect us from criminals. We certainly need more of
    Those!!! Just my humble opinions here folks!!!

  2. Mr. Deschenes:

    Show me a municipality or other local government (run by either liberals or conservatives) that doesn’t structure its ganja ordinance to rake in the tax money and I will eat my hat. This is a sin tax and regulation argument. The quasilegal nature of the product just seems to make these taxes and regulations that much easier to impose.

    Since you mentioned it you are correct in one respect on this issue. We should be very careful who we vote for in the upcoming election. For example, in 2018 the current President rescinded the previous administration’s guidance, which enabled states to legalize marijuana without federal intervention. Stressing that marijuana possession and distribution is against federal law, the DOJ directed U.S. attorneys to approach these cases as they do all other cases when enforcing them.

    The federal criminalization of weed allows municipalities to more easily put the screws to dealers.
    Vote for Trump if you want to keep putting people in federal prison for weed.

  3. Click click click, gurgle gurgle gurgle, cough cough cough. Mmmmmm, healthy.

  4. Luke,

    I agree with you 100% that this state is going to tax the crap out of the weed sales!!! I remember reading
    Several articles during the last couple years about the legislative debates over how much to tax marijuana
    Sales. I remember that the Dems wanted to tax it at 20% and alot of people voiced concerns that those
    Extreme high tax rates would backfire and drive everyone back into the black market. I remember warnings
    From Colorado which tried to charge crazzzzzy high taxes on it and it backfired and they smartened up and
    Lowered the tax rates (to around 10% if i remember correctly). But the last thing i remember reading many
    Months ago was that the legislature (controlled by the Dems) voted for the 20% sales tax on it. Am i correct?
    All the Dems can see here is an easy way to get money, a sin tax for sure!!!! In my opinion the common
    Sense approach should have been to start somewhere around 7-8% and see how it goes and let all these
    Businesses around the state get themselves established and then slowly raise the taxes in the future if it
    Can be shown that there is a need for more law enforcement or more drug treatments/rehab. But many
    people in the legislature have no clue how to operate and manage a for profit business! And these high sales
    Taxes will drive the folks who buy weed to keep shopping in the black market. Business as usual from our
    Legislature and other political leaders. I am not the first conservative to say the following....the republicans
    Are just as bad as the Dems in many ways. But overall, i think it is generally less damaging to our country if
    People vote for the republican or libertarian candidates. Just an opinion from a former business man folks.

  5. Luke,

    Forgot one thing. You mentioned the federal government reversed the previous laws passed by Obama.
    Our federal government is TOTALLY broken!!!! Just watch the news any day or night!!!! Nobody pays any
    attention to what the government says or does these days!!!! Weed has been illegal on the federal level
    Forever, but the states have been doing their own thing and the Feds generally look the other way. UNLESS
    You are a Republican!!! So my advice for you or any other person who wants to grow and sell pot, just
    Register as a Democrat and waaalaaaaa, you will be left alone to grow and prosper. Good luck to you!!

  6. Al... the more ICE facilities the better, especially in southern Maine. Maybe they could even start deporting liberals!

  7. Big Pharma does not want much to do with weed because they can not control it. When you see them advocating for anything they can not make a big profit on please let me know about it.People die every day from" legal" drugs that in the long run we end up footing a big bill for from beginning to end. Our government is no better,they will do just as MIKE says and tax the crap out of weed and drive people back to the black market. Greed is our problem today and its blind. Al has no idea how well he hit the nail on the head for the whole State of Maine with the "To many regulations and to little common sense" statement. Common sense is what always saved this state but with more and more people starting to think they know how everyone else should live we are starting to struggle in that area. We need a refresher course that simply put your rights stop where mine begin.TAXES-Nothing fair about them. It started at a young age when I called Rep. Snows office to complain about the unfair taxes single people had to pay compared to every one else. A very sympathetic young lady working the desk explained to me she was in the same boat and would love to do something about it but there simply were not enough of us. Many of our generation choose not to have children but we have quietly paid a large percentage of our property taxes to educate others and will through our retirement. Think a break is in order? For every one that has a responsible thought about how many children they should have there is another that will have five and not worry about it so why not a break for us? Our system rewards people that have children and cant support them. Our political systems are so far apart they waste their time and our money fighting and get nothing done. They are going to ruin what good that can come from the people wanting to try something that didnt benefit ten business portfolios back down the road. We have never been more ready for a new direction with a common sense base.