The stark contrast between the two proposed marijuana legalization referendums was made painfully apparent this past weekend at the Common Ground Country Fair.

Legalize Maine, the local grassroots organization sponsoring the version of the referendum that supports local farmers and care providers, showed deep understanding of the rural culture of Maine by doing the right thing. They signed up for a table in the Social and Political Action tent, paid their fees and settled in for the weekend to talk to folks about the referendum and get their support and signatures.

Marijuana Policy Project, the astroturf corporate referendum, behaved the way you would expect an out-of-state, out-of-touch organization to behave. They did not pay for a table, opting to set up in the middle of walk ways, blocking foot traffic and being generally disruptive and obnoxious. After being told repeatedly they were not allowed to collect signatures anywhere but at a paid-for table they moved to the side of the road just off the fairgrounds where they impeded traffic and generally made a nuisance of themselves. Some were even flat out lying about the initiatives and getting folks to sign under false pretenses. This is somewhat understandable when you know that this corporate group is paying their signature gatherers $3 a signature. More than twice the going rate.

So I ask you to do two things. First when you are approached by a signature gatherer make sure you are signing what they tell you you’re signing. And second think about which group you really want running the recreational marijuana program in Maine. Homegrown activists who have been at this for quite a while or fly-by-night corporate tax and regulate bullies.

Betsy Garrold