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"Unearthed: Allen Ginsberg at One of the Earliest Maine Medical Cannabis Rallies"

Written By:

Mike Reynolds

With Maine set to become the first state on the east coast to implement legislation that will allow the adult-use, recreational cannabis market to flourish, and with nearly two decades of a decriminalized medical program hailed as one of the best in the nation, we thought it would be interesting to go back in history to one of the earliest medical cannabis rallies in the State of Maine.

The first medical cannabis rally in Maine took place at the farm of Harry and Cindi Brown of Starks, ME. Donnie Christensen was also involved with the medical marijuana movement from the very beginning. If anyone reading this has any media that covers that event, we would love to archive it for public and/or personal archives, so please let us know.

This recording is from Orono, ME, while the State mulled over the passage of the first medical marijuana law, which passed overwhelmingly the House and Senate, it was eventually vetoed by Governor John McKernan. The bill was literally “on the Governor’s desk” when the first Hempstock rally occurred in 1992, which is mentioned several times during the recording of the event.

Incredibly, the people who set this rally up noted in the recording the night before that they would have a gay literary icon known precisely for his use of cannabis, who by the time of this rally, was identifying as disabled. The first state to legalize medical marijuana would be California in 1995, largely led by the LGBTQ Community caught in the midst of the AIDS crisis. Maine would pass its first medical marijuana law by voter initiative, in 1999.

The recording can be listened to here! There are also links in the description to download the audio files.


Some personal notes on the lecture and Ginsberg’s visit to Orono in 1992: I had just confirmed my acceptance to UMaine for the Fall ’92 semester the same week as the lecture. I only knew about it a day or two before because I specifically remember reading an ad for the lecture in the publication that Maine Writes and Publishers Alliance put out, but I had no license, nor any friends who wanted to drive four hours round trip. A friend “F.B” who was a graduate student said Ginsberg was fond of the orange sherbet served at the Oronoka, a famed local establishment that he went to dinner with folks from the English Department the night before. The Oronoka has since closed.

Recording notes: Unknown taper-> “Z.B.” ->myself (presumed lineage) Unknown recording equipment, though seems high quality, perhaps a DAT? Recordings received as two 90 minute cassette tapes in the mid-1990’s, transferred and digitally mastered by Mike Reynolds for Ability Maine in 2017.  

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