Maine Governor Paul LePage released a video this week urging voters to reject “Question 1,” which would legalize recreational marijuana.
LePage made several controversial claims regarding the dangers of marijuana use. Among them was the statement that marijuana users were “three times” as likely to become heroin addicts. This has not been supported by any research. In fact, marijuana may even help to reduce opioid use.
LePage also claimed that “traffic deaths have risen dramatically” in Colorado since the legalization of marijuana. Drug Policy Alliance has released a report debunking that theory. Traffic fatalities have remained largely unchanged since Colorado residents voted to approve recreational marijuana in 2012.
The governor also went on to say that “THC levels in marijuana snacks are so high they could kill children and pets.” Although there is a legitimate concern over keeping edibles out of the hands of children, there has yet to be a documented case of a fatal marijuana overdose. In fact, children are significantly more likely to be poisoned by household items than marijuana.
Maine state representative Diane Russell (D-Portland) did not agree with the governor’s assessment.
“It is right out of The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” Russell said. “If you keep telling lies or propaganda, eventually when you need them to hear the truth they are just not going to believe you.”
Russell supports Question 1. “If I have to pay taxes on my bourbon, you all have to pay taxes on your pot,” Russell said. “We have to build schools.”
Recent polling shows that 53 percent of Maine residents support Question 1. If passed, residents 21 and older could legally posses and purchase recreational marijuana. Marijuana “cafes” would also be permitted under that proposed plan. New jobs, tax revenues, and businesses would also result from the referendum’s passage.
LePage has made controversial statements on drug statistics in the past. In August he said that 90 percent of convicted drug dealers in Maine were black or Latino. The Huffington Post reported that approximately 60 percent of those arrested for selling drugs in Maine were white.