BELMONT, Maine — “Free Weed 4 Veterans.”
More than one driver did a double-take and swerved directions Monday afternoon after seeing that eye-catching sign propped atop a green Subaru station wagon parked off Route 3. The vehicle, and the sentiment, belonged to Randy Hayes, a 55-year-old medical marijuana provider from Montville.
He said that he wanted to take advantage of Veterans Day to do something to help the men and women who have served the country — as long as they brought their physician certification for Maine’s medical marijuana program with them.
“Growing up and watching the government treat the veterans the way it did, it disappointed me,” Hayes said while smoking a thin cigarillo next to his station wagon. “I want to show the veterans that what they did really truly amounted to something and I appreciate it immensely.”
So much, in fact, that he was trying to give away three ounces of the marijuana he grows at his business, Five Star Pharm, and which filled his Subaru with its unmistakable aroma. Hayes said that the street value of the medical marijuana he wanted to give to veterans totaled $750. By midafternoon, although about a dozen veterans had stopped by, only a couple actually had their legally mandated certification with them.
One man who fought overseas in a long-ago war begged Hayes for enough marijuana for “just one joint,” the grower said, but he had to turn him down.
Another veteran, Jay Richards of Belfast, said that he served in the U.S. Navy when he stopped to take a photo of the scene.
“I think it’s pretty awesome,” Richards said, adding that he doesn’t have his certification.
“I wish you had your card. I want to give you weed, I really do,” Hayes told him.
In addition to supporting veterans in his own way, the medical marijuana grower said that he also wanted to spread the word about the positive uses of the drug, which has seen more acceptance in recent years. Voters in Portland last week decided to legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana.
“When I was growing up, it was the evil weed,” Hayes said, adding that he has two young children and they are learning something different. “Now my daughter and son address marijuana as medication. It’s not an evil weed.”