Apr 27, 2023 Updated 23 hrs ago
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CAMDEN — A nonprofit corporation with an informational website has formed to fight against a proposal to allow up to two recreational retail marijuana shops in Camden.
The group calls itself Camden Cares and has a website at camdencares.me.
Currently it represents efforts to convince Camden voters to vote down two articles that will be on the June 13 town meeting warrant.
One article asks if residents would like to approve retail cannabis shops in downtown and business districts in Camden with a setback of 500 feet from schools or libraries and the other asks the same question, but with a larger setback of 1,000 feet from schools or libraries.
Camden Cares President Jordan Cohen is urging a vote of no on both. He points out that people should not feel that they must choose one or the other, but can vote down both.
In a recent op-ed in The Camden Herald, Mark Benjamin of Botany, who is proposing allowing the stores in Camden has urged a yes vote on both.
Camden Cares was formed April 11 and the board of directors is: President Jordan Cohen; VP Pete T. Rich; Jesse Bifulco; Wendy Leeper; Matthew Levin; Jeffrey Lewis; Sophie Piconi; and Stuart Smith.
Cohen said that while the current focus is keeping cannabis out of Camden, after the vote the organization will remain focused on working to promote the health and social welfare of Camden’s residents.
The group argues on the website, which includes videos, that the stores would put children in town at risk by normalizing marijuana use and increasing likelihood of their access.
Marijuana stores including Botany require everyone who walks in to provide their driver’s license and makes sure no one who is under 21 can buy the products.
The group is gearing up for a campaign in the next month including signs on lawns, fliers, hand-outs, direct mailers and advertising.
Benjamin has refuted arguments made on the Camden Cares website. He argues it is false that the stores would increase children’s access to marijuana, and notes that teens get cannabis through the black market rather than legal stores. He disputes the claim that Botany is working to serve out-of-state investors, saying the founders and people who run the business are all local.