The passage of Portland’s ballot Question 1, legalizing recreational marijuana, marks a historic step for Maine and the entire East Coast.

It sends a signal that the state’s largest city is ending the failed prohibition on adult use of marijuana.

While symbolic, this ordinance lacks the detail needed for success and could end up hurting the city’s reputation.

Question 1 leaves a myriad of unanswered questions:

Where will adult recreational users buy marijuana? How can users ensure the product is safe? How will law enforcement handle it?

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department and the Portland Police Department have said that federal and state laws trump a city ordinance – meaning, you could still be arrested.

If Portland’s Question 1 is to be more than a symbolic victory for supporters of legalization, it must spark a discussion on how to address all of the major regulatory issues. If we don’t create rules, confusion is likely to follow.

Three years ago, Maine created a regulatory system for medical marijuana dispensaries modeled after successful programs in other states. However, earlier this year, Wellness Connection of Maine, the state’s largest medical marijuana provider, came under intense scrutiny in part because the existing regulations lacked specificity.

Despite our best efforts toward compliance with existing regulations, we were held accountable for violations that we didn’t know we were making.

Fortunately, WCM and our member-patients are better off for that experience.

While a painful time to recall, we do so for the sake of Portland’s reputation.

We hope that the success of Question 1 brings all of the key stakeholders – legislators, law enforcement, industry leaders, and patients – to the table for a thorough discussion about how a legalized landscape should look.

We need to get it right for Maine.

Becky DeKeuster

Executive director, Wellness Connection of Maine

Affordable Care Act works fine on state-run exchanges

One of the pieces of misinformation out there about the Affordable Care Act is that the health care insurance exchanges were all supposed to be run by the federal government.

States were supposed to set up their own insurance exchanges and the federal government’s website was supposed to be a portal to state websites.

Thirty-four states led by Republican governors, including Maine’s Gov. Paul Lepage, refused to set up state insurance exchanges and instead left it to Washington.

Let’s look at the state of Kentucky’s Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who set up an exchange in that state with a nice, simple website.

It’s working quite well. Thirty thousand Kentuckians are already signed up for insurance plans that they shopped for on Kentucky’s state insurance exchange.

So it’s pretty curious that Kentucky’s Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell grandstand about what a failure the Affordable Care Act is when it is working extremely well in their own state.

Google what they are doing in Kentucky and decide for yourself who speaks the truth and who is blowing smoke.

George Harlan

Old Orchard Beach

Center to help immigrant workers will prove its worth

I appreciated your supportive editorial about the New Mainers Resource Center (“Give Maine’s skilled immigrants chance to fill ‘skills gap’ ” Nov. 1).

The Maine Legislature last session passed a bill creating the pilot project to help foreign-trained professionals integrate into the U.S. job market. Portland Adult Education is launching the center with $75,000 in state funding for each of the first two years.

The center will offer services such as individualized career planning and networking assistance to help foreign-trained professionals meet the critical needs of local businesses for highly skilled employees.

We have spent the past few months getting the necessary state and local approvals to move forward with the project.

Portland Adult Education has formed an advisory committee and we are in the middle of the hiring process for a coordinator. We expect to have the center fully functioning by next month.

This is a win-win proposition. Local businesses will fill vacancies for engineers, physicians and other professional positions.

Families now struggling to get by on low-wage jobs will enter the middle class and contribute to the local tax base.

Gov. LePage’s administration has proposed cutting the second year of funding for the center. We are confident that the center will prove its worth by the time the Legislature addresses that proposal.

Rob Wood

Director, Portland Adult EducationPortland Public Schools

 

Recycling stickers a cheap alternative to pricey bins

In response to the letter “Give the Poor a Break on Costs of Trash Collection,” (Nov. 5) Mr. Lewis should ask the city of Portland to look into an inexpensive alternative as we did here in Parsonsfield a couple of years ago.

Large red stickers that say “Parsonsfield Recycles” are sold at the town office for $2. They can be attached to any type of container to be put at curbside on recycling pick-up day.

The only stipulations are the sticker must be visible from the road and the container cannot weigh more than 50 pounds when full.

We no longer order recycling bins that used to cost our residents $10. The city of Sanford has a similar system.

Judy Watson Ingram

Parsonsfield Recycling Committee Parsonsfield