February 14

OUR OPINION: Thumbs up, thumbs down

Quick takes on the issues making news this week in central Maine ...

THUMBS DOWN to a bill under discussion at the State House that would prohibit the sale of “kief,” a marijuana derivative.

Kief, crystals from marijuana flowers, are heavy in cannabidiol, which has been shown to be effective in treating seizures and convulsions, but low in THC, the chemical in pot that causes a high. The ban would cut off the supply to patients suffering from illnesses such as epilepsy. It has proven especially popular for use in children, for whom the kief in medical marijuana provides benefits without the resulting psychoactive effects.

Because strains of marijuana low in THC are not popular with recreational users, they have not been developed through the years and can be difficult to find. One couple, unable to find such a strain in Maine, is planning to go to Colorado to find help for their 14-month-old daughter, who suffers from dangerous and debilitating seizures.

Kief is just another way to deliver the proven medical benefits of marijuana, and it should not be banned.

The committee reviewing the bill, L.D. 1739, also should look closely at the parts of the bill that would allow for warrantless searches of caregivers and patients.

THUMBS UP to the Maine Senate and House for voting to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill to increase the number of Maine schoolchildren with access to a summer food program.

As we have said before, the programs required under the bill will use federal funds to help feed the estimated 85,000 students in this state who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch. Now, only 13,000 of those students have access to summer food programs, leaving the rest with a two-month gap during which their nutrition suffers needlessly.

Under the bill, only school districts that offer summer recreation programs are required to participate, and districts are allowed to let service organizations administer the program. It is hardly a burden, and the benefits of year-round nutritious food for students is undeniable.

THUMBS UP to a plan by the lead owner of the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline to send natural gas north from Pennsylvania and New York and into Maine.

There are questions about whether the project can attract enough capacity to lower natural gas and electricity rates here. But it is a sign of the effort to increase supply using cheaper gas from the Marcellus and Utica fields. Ultimately, that could lead to lower energy prices for residents and businesses.

“It’s a significant development,” said Patrick Woodcock, energy director for Gov. LePage. “It’s the first step in moving forward with a significant project that could provide access to affordable, stable gas prices for Maine.”

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