Vote No to Articles 3 & 4
Say No to Pot Shops in Camden
By the Board of Directors of Camden Cares
How We Got Articles 3 & 4
Back in March, a single resident asked the Select Board to change our zoning law to allow him to open a recreational marijuana store in the heart of Camden.
If you take away the testimony of the sponsor, one of his business partners and a family member, all the other testimony was against the proposal. Even on short notice, an unusually large assembly of Camden residents turned up at the hearing and passionately argued against the proposal.
Nevertheless, without further deliberation, a majority of the Select Board rushed not one, but two articles onto the June 13 ballot that would permit pot shops in our tiny commercial district. So rushed was the draft that the ballot includes a correction slip of paper.
Clearing up the Confusion
The correction slip, the fact that there are two separate articles, and the statement on the ballot that the Select Board "voted” for the articles have created much confusion.
Some people believe that since there are two articles about the same thing (pot shops), they must say yes to one or the other. For clarity, if you want to prevent pot shops from opening on Bay View Street or anywhere in Camden, you must vote NO on BOTH Articles 3 AND 4.
Another point of confusion is whether the Select Board is endorsing pot shops because the Articles say “Select Board Voted 4 – 1 – 0". That is also not the case. The Select Board isn’t recommending pot shops in Camden – our ballots always show the margin by which the Board voted to put something to a town vote.
What is ‘Camden Cares’?
Recognizing the seriousness of this issue, many townspeople organized an informational campaign about Articles 3 and 4. Our board of volunteers consists of a truly diverse group of people. We have wildly different views on a variety of issues. But despite our differences, we all believed this issue deserved more attention.
For the sponsor of Articles 3 & 4 this is about one thing: making money for whoever ends up being licensed to sell pot in Camden. The sponsor of Article 3 & 4 has not articulated a single benefit for Camden. His slogan “More Reason to Shop Camden” deceptively omits any reference to opening pot shops in our village.
For Camden Cares on the other hand, this has been an investment for the benefit of the community. Our Board members and volunteers across the town have donated funds and sacrificed leisure time, work time, and time with their families to let people know what’s on the ballot. Also, to present the most recent studies on pot shops and their impact on public health, safety, and economic well-being of the places they’re already in. We have had to raise awareness of the facts because no one else has.
Here’s why you should vote no on both Articles 3 and 4 between now and the 8pm voting deadline on June 13th:
We’d be setting a radical new zoning precedent. Pot shops are vastly different from the existing businesses in Camden. No other shop sells federally illegal psychoactive recreational drugs. No other shop must prohibit kids from entering. No other shop is required to be kept at a distance from schools. We don’t have any adult stores, gun shops, strip clubs, or gambling halls in Camden. We don’t even have a dedicated liquor store. Camden is a different kind of village that is a year-round, family friendly place to live and visit, and our zoning ordinance makes it so. Articles 3 and 4 would change that permanently.
Articles 3 and 4 will not bring tax revenue. Approval of this zoning change will NOT bring any money to the village. All tax revenue goes to Augusta. What’s more, Camden’s taxpayers might be on the hook for subsidizing pot shops. We get reimbursed at the end of the year a maximum of $20,000 for costs incurred by the town related to pot shop licensing, policing, litter pick up, and anything else. We pay for all this using our own tax dollars – not the pot shop owners.
Fewer shopping options. With such a tiny commercial area, if a pot shop opens anywhere in our town – whether on Bay View Street or Elm Street, that’s one less option for a business that fits in with our current ordinance.
Residents already have an abundance of options to acquire pot within 15 minutes. Knox County already has over 100 times more licensed pot shops per capita than New York County (Manhattan). Every new pot shop that opens deprives shoppers of the possibility of a different shop that might have opened. If you really want more reasons to shop Camden, you should vote No.
The kids of Camden will have easier access to pot, and use will go up – it's a proven fact. We can’t pretend that recreational pot shop marijuana isn’t resold to kids. It naïve and perhaps deceptive to counter that illegal resale won’t happen because pot shops ask for ID. And the pot of today is much stronger than it used to be. Pot shops normalize marijuana, and teen marijuana abuse has increased by nearly 250% in the past 20 years. Looking specifically at Maine, the Northern New England Poison Control Center has told us that calls received specific to cannabis ingestion have grown 300% in the past decade, with the primary form of consumption being the extremely potent high-THC gummies and other edibles that are most frequently sold by licensed pot shops. The reality is that if Articles 3 and 4 pass, more of Camden’s kids will acquire, use and abuse marijuana. It has happened everywhere that pot shops have opened in America, and it will happen here.
Article 3 and 4 could seriously harm Camden’s economic vibrancy. Camden is consistently ranked by leading travel publications as not only one of the best small towns to visit in Maine, but in the entire country.
Camden’s brand is family friendly. And we are just one tiny village that’s part of a much larger county. We don’t need to imitate Rockland with its five pot shops and more bohemian vibe. We are much smaller than Rockland (it’s a city and we’re not even a town – we're a village). We are also much smaller than Rockport - whose townspeople voted no to pot shops almost immediately after statewide legalization passed. Hope also voted no.
It’s ok for different municipalities to have different brands – in fact, it’s part of what makes living in Knox County so special. But Camden is often called the “Jewel of the Midcoast” and if we open pot shops in Camden, we will be rolling the dice on our future economic vibrancy both as a popular tourist destination and place for people to live and raise kids.
If Article 3 and 4 pass, there will be more crime, and less security. Statistics show that crime goes up with more pot shops. But if you’ve been alive for more than five minutes, you probably knew that. Our ageing-in-place population and many single women choose to live here because they value that security. They enjoy leaving their doors open, walking alone at night, or on hiking trails. Are we willing to trade that peace of mind for yet another pot shop?
Do you need more reasons than that?
The rush, the stakes, nothing in it for Camden, more to lose than gain… for so many reasons, it is prudent and in the best interests of all residents of the town to vote NO on both Articles 3 and 4. Please visit www.camdencares.me for more information.
Address: 66 Elm Street, Suite CC, Camden ME 04843