The Laws Are Hazy, but Here’s What’s Happened…
On November 8, 2016 Maine voters approved Question #1 and joined eight other states to legalize the recreational use, retail sale and taxation of marijuana. Following a recount and certification of election results “An Act to Legalize Marijuana” was enacted. You can find the full “Act to Legalize Marijuana” and other background information, in the 2016 Maine Citizen’s Guide to the Referendum Election.
On January 27, 2017 the legislature approved a state-wide moratorium on implementing parts of the law regarding retail sales and taxation until at least February 2018, giving time to resolve issues and formulate rules. The portion of the law that did become effective on January 30, 2018 allows persons over 21 years to grow six mature plants and possess 2.5 ounces.
In February 2017, the Marijuana Implementation Committee was formed to address the complex issues surrounding full implementation of the law. Their first order of business is deciding which department will act as the state licensing authority. The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF) was named in the Act as the state licensing authority, but it has been proposed that the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations (BABLO) be the regulatory department. It is likely that oversight will be a joint effort between ACF and BABLO.
Towns Blazing Their Own Trail
Under the Legalization Act, a municipality can vote on whether or not to be a “dry town” regarding Marijuana Retail Establishments and Social Clubs. At this time, at least eight towns in our service area have voted and passed prohibition ordinances. Retail Marijuana Establishments and Social Clubs are banned in Athens, Bingham, Canaan, Madison, Moscow, Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Starks.
If towns decide to allow these businesses, there are other measures that can be put in place promote and protect the public health, safety and welfare from the negative effects of legalization. Sign Codes regulating the size and content of all types of outdoor signs can limit youth exposure. Potential fire hazards resulting from overloading circuits can be avoided with ordinances that allow law enforcement and building officials to inspect grows at any time.
Potential Chronic Problems
One in five high school students in our area report current marijuana use according to the Maine Integrative Youth Health Survey; this is twice as many youth that report current cigarette use. Perhaps more concerning, is that 60% of our high school youth report a low perceived risk of harm from smoking 1-2 times a week. This is concerning because low perception of harm is linked to greater use. As with any other substance that causes impairment there is potential for developing dependence, and the earlier use starts the higher the risk for dependence becomes.
Planting the Prevention Seed
If you are a parent, talk to your child about substance use in their early teen years. You may be surprised at how much influence your words, actions and opinions can have on their choices. Visit the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids for resources on talking to you child about marijuana, alcohol and other drugs.
6 Parenting Practices: Help Reduce the Chances Your Child will Develop a Drug or Alcohol Problem. http://drugfree.org
Move More Kids Program Grants
Somerset Public Health
Purpose: The purpose of the Move More Kids Community Program Grants are to engage communities to improve access to places for physical activity and healthy foods.
Funding amount: Up to $2,000 will be available to awarded applicants.
Proposed projects must:
- Directly improve the ability of community members to be more physically active and/or get more healthy food
- Be visible, accessible, and engage the community at large
- Provide sustained impact after the grant is over
- Operation support is discouraged, but will be considered if operating support provides a sustained impact
- Incorporate Move More Kids, New Balance, and Somerset Public Health branding
- One-time events will be not be considered
What this grant cannot fund:
- Replace already existing funds
- One-time events
- Purchase of sports equipment/team uniforms
- Speaker/educator fees
- Projects affiliated with political parties
- Groups or organizations that practice discrimination
- Fundraising for groups/organizations
Who can receive a grant?
- Town Recreation Departments
- Community Leadership Groups
- Faith-based groups
- Civic groups
- Other non-profit community based organizations
A letter of intent highlighting the process and outcomes of the proposed project must be submitted to Somerset Public Health to be considered for funding. The letter of intent can be no longer than 1 page double spaced 12 point font. Somerset Public Health will review letters of intent and invite promising projects to apply for funding.
Letter of intent due on or before: Friday, April 21, 2017.
Applicants will be notified by: Friday, April 28, 2017 about next steps
Full application due on or before: Friday, May 12, 2017.
Projects to begin: May 22, 2017
Final reports: Due on or before September 30, 2017.
Betsy Richard, MPH, MS, Community Health Educator, Somerset Public Health
Hunger is impacting our neighbors and we may not even know about it. According to information gathered by Feeding America (2014) over 8,000 adults and 2,500 children live with food insecurity in Somerset County. Out of those individuals, over 20% are not eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs or any other nutrition programs.
Somerset Public Health (SPH) has been working with food pantries across our county to help bring fresh fruits and vegetables into the pantries, assist in creating a sustainability plan as well as helping to provide needed infrastructure to the pantries.
In collaboration with the Good Shepherd Food Bank and Eastern Maine Health Care, SPH provides assistance to pantries through a CDC Partnership to Improve Community Health Care grant. SPH provided:
• 3000 brochures for community agencies to promote the food pantries
• 14 crates to be able to gather fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmers market
• 7 pantry signs
• 4 full size refrigerators
• 4 full size freezers
• 1 freezer/refrigerator combo
• 1 produce display
• 8 laptops with printers
• 3 pantries received additional shelving
We will continue to support our local food pantries by helping them establish written nutrition policies such as Go-Slow-Whoa so individuals are receiving and being educated that the healthiest choice is the easiest choice.
Bulletin board at People Who Care Food Pantry with material provided by Somerset Public Health for clients to see which choices would be healthier choices.