State Sues Blue Hill Farmer, Challenges Food Sovereignty Ordinance

cross-posted from the Maine Tenth Amendment Center

In the last year, five towns in Maine have moved to protect local commerce in a hurting economy by nullifying State and Federal regulations. As previous reported by the Maine Tenth Amendment Center regarding Sedgwick, the first town to do so, “Under the new ordinance, producers and processors are protected from licensure or inspection in sales that are sold for home consumption between them and a patron, at farmer’s market, or at a roadside stand. The ordinance specifically notes the right of the people to food freedom, as well as citing the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Maine Constitution in defending the rights of the people.” National Family Farm Coalition member and local Sedgwick farmer Bob St. Peter noted, “Rural working people have always had to do a little of this and a little of that to make ends meet. But up until the last couple generations, we didn’t need a special license or new facility each time we wanted to sell something to our neighbors. Small farmers and producers have been getting squeezed out in the name of food safety, yet it’s the industrial food that is causing food borne illness, not us.”

The push back has begun, but instead of the Federal Government leading a charge against non-compliance, it is the State Government. Maine Agricultural Commissioner Walter Whitcomb, who was appointed by Republican Governor Paul LePage, has followed through on a threat against local farmers in a struggling economy. In a letter dated April 6th, Whitcomb made it very clear that non-compliance “will be subject to enforcement, including the removal from sale of products from unlicensed sources and/or the imposition of fines.” Dan Brown of Gravelwood Farms is being sued by the State for operating without a license.

Trenton citizen Doug Wollmar, who introduced the Ordinance in his town, noted Article 1, Section 2 of the Maine Constitution and a Statute.

Article 1, Section 2 states: “All power is inherent in the people; all free governments are founded in their authority and instituted for their benefit, [and that] they have therefore an unalienable and indefensible right to institute government and to alter, reform, or totally change the same when their safety and happiness require it.”

Details

Stop State and Federal Charades

I have lived in Montana for over a year and have practiced law here for about the same time. I have handled various medical marijuana cases and have become familiar with the legal and political scenario regarding state and federal laws on medical marijuana.

During this time I have seen a most disturbing sign of our political condition, and it confirms what I have expressed for the past several years concerning state sovereignty verses federal usurpation.

Montana Medical Marijuana Laws

In 2004 the citizens of Montana overwhelmingly passed an initiative to legalize the medical use of marijuana. (Please, if you oppose legalizing marijuana, do not let the subject fog a clear understanding of the point of this article–personal views on morality is not the issue.)

Since then, the State legislature has essentially repealed that law and replaced it with another medical marijuana plan. Regardless of which marijuana law, the lawful use of marijuana for medical use remains.

Conflict with Federal Drug Laws

This state law is, of course, in violation of federal laws that outlaw all possession, manufacturing, growing, and use of marijuana. So, how does this conflict play out in the federal union of the United States? And what do the state and federal governments’ actions regarding the same reveal about this union’s condition?

Federal Prosecutions in Montana

Since early 2011, the federal government has initiated raids and prosecutions against Montana citizens for alleged violation of federal drug laws—in spite of Montana’s laws.

Federal agents focused their attacks on those who were doing business openly—using store front, public advertisement, incorporated registration, etc. This is significant given that the Feds claim they investigated these matters for “years”—it is comparable to investigating Wal-Mart for selling products made in China. Makes you wonder how proficient they are in tax-dollar use.

Details