Governor Paul LePage Says Legal Pot is 'Deadly,' Will Kill Kids and Pets

By Paul Gaita 10/19/16

The ever-vocal governor laid out some "facts" about the effects of marijuana legalization in a new video message.

Governor Paul LePage Says Legal Pot is 'Deadly,' Will Kill Kids and Pets
Photo: via YouTube

Last week, Maine Governor Paul LePage issued a video message which stated that a referendum on the state’s ballot to legalize marijuana will lead to what amounts to wholesale anarchy in the state—including the unrestricted sale of pot at schools and churches and the death of “children and pets” from accidental consumption of “marijuana snacks.”

The video—which was posted on Facebook on Oct. 13 and has since been removed from LePage’s profile, though it can be viewed here—is the latest in a series of controversial statements from LePage, whose inflammatory and racially charged claims on drugs and crime have been met with scorn and disbelief from government and political figures in his own state and on a national level.

LePage released the video to urge Maine voters to oppose Question 1—which seeks to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for recreational use—on the Nov. 8 ballot. To secure their support, LePage listed an array of alleged facts about legal marijuana that veered from eccentric to completely false, including a claim that traffic fatalities have risen in Colorado since the state passed legislation to legalize marijuana. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, marijuana legalization has had little effect on traffic fatalities in Colorado, as well as in Washington, Alaska and Oregon.

LePage also stated that the THC levels in marijuana are stronger than they were in previous decades, and parlayed this notion into fears concerning the state’s heroin and opioid problems by claiming that “people addicted to marijuana are three times more likely to be addicted to heroin.” Again, LePage’s assessment is akin to “Reefer Madness”-style hysteria. A 2014 study found that opioid deaths decreased in the 23 states where medical marijuana was legal at the time by nearly 25%.

As the video wore on, LePage’s rhetoric eventually took on the doomsday tenor of presidential candidate Donald Trump—of whom LePage is an ardent supporter—by envisioning a future in which marijuana is purchased and consumed in open public. “People will smoke marijuana in pot stores right next to schools, daycare centers and churches,” he states. “They will smoke weed and sell pot at state fairs.” Such unfettered access will have disastrous consequences, he stated, and will lead to the deaths of both children and animals that accidentally consume the edibles that will be left unchecked by unregulated pot sales.

In response to the video, Maine State Representative Diane Russell, who supports Question 1, said that LePage’s unreasonable tone and inaccurate statements might actually help pass the measure. “It is right out of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf,'” Russell told the Huffington Post. “If you keep telling lies or propaganda, eventually when you need [voters] to hear the truth they are just not going to believe you. The magical thing he did is he took all the bullshit from the 1980s on and put it in one video.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.