The Windham town councilor who resigned last week while the board was debating an ordinance governing retail marijuana stores was right to quit in protest.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for the Lakes Region Weekly, lives in Windham.

Some have argued that Rebecca Cummings should have stayed on the board, and in the proverbial political fight, rather than resigning, but I applaud her act. It brought widespread attention to the insanity regarding recreational marijuana.

Cummings, according to news reports, resigned before a vote was to be held on the ordinance. She said, “I cannot be a part of a board that approves (marijuana).” She then unplugged her microphone and walked out.

Rarely does a government leader resign on principle, and while some think her batty for not going with the crowd and embracing the drug culture, many others support her principled position.

Perhaps Cummings’ startling actions rattled the council enough to realize they should pause before supporting such long-lasting and culture-shifting ordinance changes. After her dramatic exit, the council postponed a vote on the matter until March 10. By then, perhaps they’ll realize their folly and find inspiration from Cummings and ban retail dope altogether.

Cummings had plenty of reasons to take what would be her final stand. It was a hill worth dying on. For one, marijuana may have been legalized by Mainers in 2016, but it’s considered illegal by the federal government. Cummings was doing her due diligence and trying to spare Windham taxpayers, and local dope retailers, if Uncle Sam comes calling. Even those who want unlimited access to marijuana must realize Cummings’ objection is based on logic as well as law and order.


One could argue that Cummings is off base because the federal government is allegedly on the verge of legalizing the gateway drug. But that day has not yet come, and Cummings was simply trying her best to keep Windham toeing the line on all applicable laws and regulations. I’m surprised her fellow councilors aren’t doing the same.

They, like other town and city leaders in Maine who have approved all sorts of marijuana-related establishments, are rushing headlong into an unlawful and potentially physically harmful realm that may ultimately cost taxpayers. The ramifications of dope-dazed and confused drivers  – with no dope sobriety test yet available – alone should be enough to make taxpayers worry about potential lawsuits.

But Cummings and other opponents of legalized marijuana aren’t just worried about the legal ramifications of dope stores, they’re worried about the social costs, especially with youth. During the meeting, which featured a three-hour public comment period, much discussion dealt with how marijuana stores would interact with and impact local youth.

One Windham student, Cole Hensler, came forth with keen insight. Hensler sadly said the proliferation of marijuana is starting to convince children that dope isn’t all that bad.

“I see other kids starting to think it’s not very (harmful),” he said.

Laura Morris, executive director of Be the Influence, a broad-based coalition aiming to keep Windham kids off drugs, also spoke common sense at the meeting regarding retail marijuana.

“The truth is, access equals use. If you increase access in the town, doesn’t matter what drug or substance, it increases youth use,” she said.

Cummings was clearly right to bring attention to this issue. Sometimes you have to rock the boat and forfeit your status to convey your message. I just wish she could have stayed on the council because she seemed to be the only councilor who has a grasp on how destructive the public embrace of dope is having on Maine.

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