Heather D. Martin’s column posted Feb. 14 titled, “Mainewhile: Absurd concentration of pot shops a reason to worry?” begins with the author expressing sadness that the “tumbledown junk shop” she passes daily is closing, and readily admits in the next paragraph she “had never once, not in the many decades of driving past, gone into that shop.”

Her husband cynically surmises, “I bet it’s going to be a new pot shop,” and with no time for the suspense to build, Martin goes on to declare, “He was right. It was a marijuana shop.”

Martin then writes, “OK. So, I don’t want to sound like a prude here,” and then does exactly that. I am not sure that prude is the only adjective I would choose to reflect the tone of this article. Close-minded comes a close second.

Rather than seeking to understand the integral and, in many cases, life changing role that cannabis plays in the lives of her fellow community members, Martin poses a series of questions – perhaps meant to be rhetorical – which compel me to respond.

“Is there really a deep enough client base to support all these shops?” Yes – a resounding yes. These are Martin’s fellow community members who, some for the first time, are able to access affordable and effective medicine to manage and treat a multitude of conditions including PTSD, anxiety, depression, migraines, chronic pain and insomnia to name a few. This access is long overdue.

“If there is, should we be worried about that?” No. Instead I would invite the author to be curious, engaged and supportive of the new entrepreneurs in the community.


“Is it a product of the isolation we all felt during lockdown?” I challenge Martin to look at this differently. Perhaps during the pandemic more people had time to pursue and reflect on their passion. Perhaps one of those seven shops that Martin passes is the fruition of someone’s dream coming true. Perhaps these new business owners were inspired to make a difference, to connect with people and to serve their community in a way that mattered to them. Perhaps they are like me and have had a life-changing experience because of cannabis and desire to share that with others.

In the spring of 2020, after decades of debilitating chronic migraines and the recent failure of a treatment option I had tried for the last 12 months, I was at a crossroads. I began using cannabis to manage the acute pain of my almost-daily migraines and it was nothing less than remarkable. I was able to manage intense pain in a way that made me feel less afraid, less out of control, less sick. Over the next several months of managing pain successfully, I noticed (afraid to acknowledge at first, thinking I might be imagining it) a significant reduction in the number of migraines I was experiencing. After a lifetime of more pain than not, now three years after I began using cannabis, I have two to three migraines a month at most, with significantly reduced pain overall. Cannabis gave me my life back.

Each time I visit one of the shops that I frequent, I am consistently met with the kindest and most caring service. I am listened to. I am helped. I am seen.

Cannabis shops are not threatening the community. They are part of the community. I would challenge Martin to think of these seven shops as microcosms of progress – places that might not be for her but are definitely for many others.

Tori Vigeant lives in Topsham with her husband, three children and two dogs.

Comments are not available on this story.