Longtime cannabis advocate continues Patriot's Day smoke-in tradition in Skowhegan

SKOWHEGAN, Maine (WABI) - For more than 25 years, Donny Christen has spent Patriot's Day hosting a smoke-in on the steps of the Somerset County Courthouse in Skowhegan.

In what may be the last year Christen can continue his tradition in person, his mission to fight for the freedom of marijuana access remains the same as it did when he started in 1991.

"I'm looking at maybe my last one here. So it's up to you guys out there to make things happen and keep things going," said Christen.

"His health isn't that great. He has COPD," said Kent Walsh, a medical marijuana patient.

28 years ago, Donny Christen held his first protest in Skowhegan to advocate for the end of marijuana prohibition.

Despite the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease slowing him down physically, Christen is just as determined as ever to fight the government from banning medical or recreational cannabis.

"It's like the blind leading the blind. And they won't listen to the people who know what the hell's going on," said Christen.

Members of Christen's cannabis activist group, Maine Vocals, joined him at the corner of High and Court Streets and share his opposition to state legislation regulating the adult-use marijuana market

"What do I think? Do you really want to know? My views on what's going on right now - there's more money floating around there in lobbyists than I've ever seen at any State House," said Dennis Hammac, a medical marijuana caregiver from Milo.

"They've dragged their feet now for over a year," said Christen.

Christen and his supporters, many of whom are medical marijuana caregivers or patients, oppose the proposed regulatory system which prohibits social clubs, taxes retail cannabis, and reduces the number of plants adults can grow at home.

"They cut it down to three plants. That's not going to work. The more regulations there are, the more laws that people will be able to break and go to jail for, and that's not what we want," said Christen.

While this may be Christen's farewell Patriot's Day smoke-in, his friends plan on continuing his tradition and have started raising funds to help get Christen an oxygen mobility unit

"There's a GoFundMe that's been up. Things like that are nice to see," said Walsh.

Christen's friends and supporters say they'll be here next year at high noon and every year after until marijuana is fully legalized.

The GoFundMe link can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/breathe-for-don.