Releaf Magazine
2Sep/150

11 States Most Likely to Legalize Marijuana Next

With a majority of Americans in favor of marijuana legalization, it seems to be only time before the herb is legal in every state. Currently only four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington) and D.C. have legalized recreational pot for adults—but according to financial blog 24/7 Wall St., 11 more states might not be far behind.

The blog's predictions are based on two criteria: states where medical marijuana is legal and states where possession of small amounts of weed is not punishable by jail.

Other considerations included the number of marijuana-related arrests per 100,000 residents, the estimated proportion of residents who used marijuana in the past year and public opinion polls.

According to USA Today, most of the states on the list also have a high number of marijuana users, with nine surpassing the nationwide rate.

See the list below:

1. Massachusetts

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $100
Marijuana Related Arrests in 2012: 2,596
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 39
Minimum Penalty Classification : Civil Offense

2. Nevada

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $600
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 8,524
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 309
Minimum Penalty Classification: Misdemeanor

3. California

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $100
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 21,256
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 56
Minimum Penalty Classification: Infraction

4. New York

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $100
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 112,974
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 577
Minimum Penalty Classification: Not Classified

5. Vermont

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $200
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 926
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 148
Minimum Penalty Classification: Civil Violation

6. Minnesota

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $200
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 12,051
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 224
Minimum Penalty Classification: Misdemeanor

7. Connecticut

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $150
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 3,747
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 104
Minimum Penalty Classification: Civil Penalty

8. Maryland

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $100
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 22,042
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 375
Minimum Penalty Classification: Civil Offense

9. Rhode Island

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $150
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 2,320
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 221
Minimum Penalty Classification: Civil Violation

10. Maine

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $600
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 3,202
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 241
Minimum Penalty Classification: Civil Violation

11. Delaware

Maximum Fine for Small Amount of Pot: $575
Marijuana-Related Arrests in 2012: 2,912
Marijuana Arrests per 100,000: 318
Minimum Penalty Classification: Misdemeanor

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VIA High Times

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5Jul/130

Maine Medical Cannabis Program Expanded to Include PTSD, Other Debilitating Conditions

By Paul Armentano |  NORML Deputy Director
 

AUGUSTA, ME – Patients diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, Crohn’s disease, and other debilitating disorders will soon be eligible for cannabis therapy underlegislation approved last week absent the Governor’s signature.

The new law expands the list of qualifying conditions for which a Maine physician may legally recommend cannabis to include “post-traumatic stress disorder,” “inflammatory bowel disease” (such as Crohn’s and/or ulcerative colitis), and “dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders and other diseases causing severe and persistent muscle spasms” (such as Parkinson’s disease and/or Huntington’s disease). It is the second time that Maine legislators have acted to expand the pool of patients who may have access to medicinal cannabis.

The law takes effect in approximately 90 days.

Four states — Connecticut, Delaware, New Mexico, and Oregon — explicitly allow for the use of cannabis to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Clinical trial data published in the May issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry theorized that cannabinoid-based therapies would likely comprise the “next generation of evidence-based treatments for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).”

Survey data published in 2011 in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology reported that the use of cannabis therapy is common among patients with inflammatory bowel disorders.

In May, researchers at the Meir Medical Center in Israel reported that inhaling cannabis reduces symptoms of Crohn’s disease compared to placebo in patients non-responsive to traditional therapies. Investigators concluded, “Our data show that 8-weeks treatment with THC-rich cannabis, but not placebo, was associated with a significant decrease of 100 points in CDAI (Crohn’s Disease and activity index) scores.”

Five of the eleven patients in the study group also reported achieving disease remission (defined as a reduction in patient CDAI score by more than 150 points).

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Via www.thedailychronic.net

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14Mar/120

March Issue Now Available Online!

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9Feb/122

February CHAMPS Issue Available Now!

Click On Magazine below to View Issue 14

 

In This Issue:

Strains: StarDog & Lambs Bread

Articles: Secret Life of Water, Little Black Book of Marijuana, CHAMPS preview Special, Releaf report, CannaBuzz, CannaChef Interviews: "Joey's Mom" Mieko Perez

HomeGrown Gadget: Compact Ebb & Grow System

Advertisers: 11th State Consults, 2k Diffuser Beads, Atmos Vaporizers B&D Glassworks, BeeLine, Big Tony's, CannaMaineia, Celebration Pipes, Dime Bags, Dinafem, From Creation Remedies, Glass Gripper, Green Candy Press, Growing Crazy, Growology, Herb Trader, Herbal Healing, Incredibowl, It's All Good, Know your Grow, Maine Expo, Medical Cannabis Journal, MMJ Bottles, Mother Nature, Mr. Kiefbox, Organic Grow Hut, Phunky Stuff, PureSel, Sequel, Silver Willow, TLess, Vaporfection, Vortex

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12Dec/111

Happy Holidays! December Issue Available Now!

Click on Magazine to see December 2011 Issue!!!!

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19May/112

Cops spare patient in midst of raid….

Drug bust illustrates challenges of enforcing Maine's medical marijuana law

At least the Maine police put the patient first......-UA

Legalization advocate Christopher Sirois charged after bust in Industry Tuesday

By David Robinson Staff Writer, Morning Sentinel

INDUSTRY -- A drug bust Tuesday afternoon in Industry shows how drug enforcement agents are struggling to enforce Maine's medical marijuana laws.

Maine drug enforcement agents found 200 marijuana plants during a raid of an Industry residence Tuesday afternoon, according to Gerry Baril, MDEA supervisor for western Maine.

The problem, however, is that it's unclear what charges should be filed, and against whom, because a woman living in the residence is a medical marijuana patient, Baril said.

Drug agents suspected the man renting the home was growing and distributing marijuana, as well as selling another drug, according to Baril.

Drug agents suspected the man renting the home was growing and distributing marijuana, as well as selling another drug, according to Baril.

Christopher Sirois, the 37-year-old man who rents the Shadagee Road house and the target of the search warrant, was arrested Tuesday on a drug trafficking charge for the other drug, an hallucinogenic stimulant,Baril said.

On Wednesday, law enforcement officials were still trying to figure out what to do about the marijuana plants, Baril said in an interview.

The 44-year-old woman living at the residence has multiple sclerosis, and she has doctor's authorization for medical marijuana, according to Baril, declining to release her name because she has not been charged.

Drug agents didn't arrest the woman and seized all but six of the marijuana plants, Baril said.

The woman was allowed to keep six of the 19 flowering plants, according to Baril, because that is the number patients can legally possess. She could, however, face charges under Maine's medicinal marijuana law for having more plants than allowed by law, he said.

Sirois also could face criminal charges tied to the marijuana plants, according to Baril. The investigation is still open and the criminal charges are more severe than those in the medicinal marijuana law, he said.

Both Sirois and the woman had access to the plants and it's difficult to determine what charges may apply to the situation, Baril said.

"It's been very challenging for law enforcement, but we're trying to be fair," he said, referring to enforcing Maine's medical marijuana laws.

"You don't want to be taken advantage of by someone who is not authorized (for medical marijuana) who is looking to distribute," Baril said.

Outside his home Wednesday, Sirois said there is no evidence to support the drug trafficking charge, which he plans to fight in court.

He also spoke out against the seizure of the marijuana plants and Maine's marijuana laws.

"It is a violation of our rights," he said, referring to laws that make marijuana illegal other than for people who register with the state.

"It's a plant from the get-go, man didn't brew it in any way, shape or form throughout history," Sirois said, standing barefoot in his gravel driveway in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt.

"Maine first, we should be legal, there is no reason for it to be illegal," he said.

Sirois called himself an advocate for legalizing marijuana. He said it should be legal for recreational use for anyone older than 21.

"I'm going to get a lot more active now," he said, referring to pushing for legalization. He declined to identify the woman at the residence.

The Maine Attorney General's Office is helping guide the investigation into the marijuana seized Tuesday, according to Baril.

Assistant Attorney General David Fisher consulted with drug agents at the arrest scene Tuesday afternoon. Fisher handles the felony drug prosecutions in Franklin, Oxford and Androscoggin counties, he said.

The Industry woman was allowed to pick six of the marijuana plants that she wanted to keep, Fisher said.

"(She) had some kind of doctor's authorization for a number of years to grow marijuana medicinally and hadn't completed the process of getting a (Maine Department of Health Human Services) card," Fisher said, referring to the identification card issued to by Maine to allow patients to possess and grow certain amounts of medical marijuana.

Fisher referred other questions on the case to his supervisor William Savage, drug prosecution coordinator for the Attorney General's Office.

Savage said there are cases where law enforcement officers "exercise discretion" when handling Maine's medical marijuana laws. He declined to talk about specifics of the case in Industry.

He said, in general, a medical marijuana patient who is not registered with the Maine Department of Health Human Services may be given the "benefit of the doubt."

Drug enforcement officers will make the decision to explain the law and give the patient a chance to get registered, Savage said. There have been cases where medical marijuana patients applied for cards and are waiting to complete the process, he said.

"This is something that we're all learning as we go in some respects," Savage said, referring to the medical marijuana laws passed in 1999 and amended in 2009.

He compared handling some medical marijuana law scenarios to giving a speeder a warning instead of a ticket.

Savage said it's up to law enforcement officers to investigate cases where it's unclear who is growing marijuana plants, or what they're doing with them.

"It can make it difficult," he said, referring to cases where a patient is living with non-patients.

It's similar to someone with a prescription for oxycodone, a painkiller prescription drug, Savage said of the medical marijuana law.

A prescribed oxycodone patient keeps the pills in the bathroom, and as long as other people without a prescription don't use the pills, it's not a problem, Savage said.

It's illegal when patients share their pills with other people in the house, or the other people without prescriptions are taking the drugs, he said.

During the search Tuesday, Baril said drug enforcement agents found less than one gram of residue that tested positive for the other drug, known as Molly, which is a hallucinogenic stimulant that is similar to Ecstasy, Baril said.

Agents also found a digital scale and 50 empty clear capsules used to package the drug, he said. Franklin County Sheriff's deputies and state police assisted agents Tuesday.

Sirois was charged with unlawful trafficking of scheduled drugs. He was released Tuesday from Franklin County Detention Center in Farmington on $3,000 unsecured bond and has a Sept. 23 court date scheduled.

The felony drug trafficking charge has a maximum 10-year prison sentence, according to Baril.

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24Apr/114

Maine gets a little ReLeaf…

Bill eases Maine's medical marijuana rules to do away with patient registration

AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill to ease Maine's regulations on the medical use of marijuana faces a legislative hearing.

The Committee on Health and Human Services holds its hearing Monday. Supporters say it expands and protects the rights of patients and caregivers.

The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Deborah Sanderson of Chelsea would eliminate a requirement that patients register with the state. It also would take the decision about whether marijuana is appropriate in a given situation out of the hands of the state and let doctors decide.

Sanderson's bill would also prevent cities and towns from placing unreasonable requirements on caregivers and patients.

A separate bill unveiled last week would legalize personal use and private and commercial cultivation of marijuana, and tax consumer purchases at 7 percent.

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21Apr/111

Interest in Use of Medical Marijuana Growing in Maine

Sometime next month two of eight medical marijuana dispensaries in Maine are expected to open: one in Ellsworth and one in Auburn. Two are already taking medical cannabis on the road and selling it to authorized patients. There have been some stumbling blocks. Several cities and towns have passed temporary moratoriums against dispensaries. And next week lawmakers will consider a bill to change some of the program rules. But the state is finding that interest in medical marijuana is growing every day.

Tim Smale and his wife Jenna looked at 35 locations before settling on a building in an Auburn shopping center to set up their non-profit medical marijuana dispensary, known as Remedy Compassion. They plan to include an on-site kitchen to make medical marijuana tinctures and edible as well as topical cannabis cream to treat arthritis and muscle spasms.

They are keeping secret the location of their medical marijuana cultivation site, but say they plan to offer high quality strains to treat a variety of ailments. They've already received a green light from the state and plan to open in the next 30 days.

Smale says the goal is to keep prices as low as possible. "I can't come out the door and offer $99 ounces," he says. "We wouldn't be here. But I can offer what the market price is. So, for example our price to our patients is $336 dollars. And I think the market price is up in the neighborhood of $400 or $350--or something like that."

The market price means the black market which many patients are already familiar with. Smale says he'll offer five percent discounts to veterans and patients on MaineCare and Social Security. He'll start out with a small staff. Right now there are just four employees, including his wife and himself, and fewer than 100 patients.

But Smale says he's anxious to get medicine to patients who need it. He says he knows what it's like to need pain relief. He's suffered from debilitating migraines for more than 20 years. At their peak he was getting them two or three times a week.

"These are very intense episodes with nausea and intense pain, and it just sends me crying like a baby sometimes," he says. "So my wife, Jenna, has actually had to give me some cannabis during these headaches when I'm literally crying on the ground in pain."

Over the years, Smale tried all kinds of medications but found them ineffective or with unpleasant side effects. He says marijuana is the only thing that works for him. He prefers to inhale it with a vaporizer so he doesn't have to smoke.

"I get probably two migraines a month now, and maybe one of them will be so devastating that I'm in a massive amount of pain. So it's changed my life," he says. "If I didn't have cannabis, shoot me, put me away. Life is not worth living without cannabis. I couldn't live without it. I would be disabled."

So many people are interested in medical marijuana that Catherine Cobb of the division of licensing at the Department of Health and Human Services says she and her staff are fielding 50 or 60 calls a day from prospective patients.

Cobb says the medical marijuana program has now registered more than 1,000 patients and 300 caregivers. "I predicted 1,200 patients and 300 caregivers in the first year and we have enough applications in the queue to exceed that 1,200 number."

Under the rules, patients with a doctor's authorization who register with the state have the option of growing their own medical marijuana, choosing a caregiver to grow it for them or signing up with a licensed dispensary. Cobb has been interested to see what patients are choosing.

"We have quite a few patients who are choosing to grow their own, but if they haven't previously used medical marijuana they're tending to choose a caregiver or dispensary because they don't want to start from scratch and wait for two or three months before their own marijuana starts producing buds," she says. "So I think for some of them it's an expediency."

According to a recent report by DHHS, Kennebec County has the highest number of qualified patients, followed by Cumberland and York. And Cumberland, Oxford and York Counties have the highest number of registered caregivers.

The report also finds that 118 doctors have agreed to participate in the program, although many express concern about potential liability attached to their recommendations. Some employers have also prohibited their physicians from recommending the use of marijuana.

And that's one reason Jonathan Leavitt of the Maine Marijuana Policy Initiative wants to relax some of the existing rules. "A lot of small adjustments that we think need to be made and will help the law work better for everybody, bring it on par with the relationship that doctors and patients usually have, where it is up to the physician to decide what the appropriate medication is, not the state," he says.

On Monday, lawmakers will hold a public hearing on a bill that would, among other things, eliminate the state's patient registry and the list of medical conditions that medical cannabis can be used to treat.

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8Apr/115

Marijuana State University Unveiled in Maine

Still not a contender for the school of hard knocks........you can read million books, go to a thousand lectures and read a few websites, nothing can replace trial and success/error.....JUST GROW YOUR OWN! -UA

By Joshua Rhett Miller
Published April 07, 2011 | FoxNews.com

Ray Logan, center, said he launched Marijuana State University and its three-hour instructional courses to help friends and acquaintances who, like himself, use marijuana to cope with illness. (Logan)

Calling all "green" thumbs: A Maine man wants to teach you how to grow pot at Marijuana State University.

Ray Logan, 56, said he launched an instructional three-hour course to help friends and acquaintances who, like himself, use marijuana to cope with illness. Logan suffered a spinal injury during a skydiving accident in 1996 and later acquired a medical marijuana card in 2010.

"A lot of people just want to learn how to grow and it's not an easy plant to grow," Logan told FoxNews.com. "It's not just sticking a seed in soil and that's it."

Logan, of Wells, Maine, held his first class on marijuana cultivation at a hotel in Portland on April 2. Roughly 15 people attended the session, which included germination tips and instructions on correct levels for humidity, temperature and lighting.

"I get right into every technical aspect of it that's possible," Logan said. "I'm still studying it. I love the biology of the plant."

The classes also include information on the history of marijuana, details on various strains and instructions on how to grow marijuana using hydroponics, a method of growing plants using mineral solutions without water.

"We have over 30 years growing experience, not corn, not peas, just growing excellent marijuana," Logan's website reads. "A reference CD will be given to all participants with the information covered in class to be used as your resource and rescue for research and troubleshooting."

While Logan says the courses are a way to instruct medical marijuana users to grow private stashes, they are open to anyone over age 21, including those who are not legally allowed to grow marijuana for personal use.

"My target audience is the medical patients," he said. "Most of them are probably going to be in their 30s, 40s and 50s, not that some younger folks don't get Crohn's [disease] or epilepsy or other things that do qualify [for medical marijuana use]. But I'm not the police; I'm not there to see if they have a medical card or not."

Police in Auburn, Maine, where Logan plans to hold his next class on May 7, told FoxNews.com that as long as attendees do not bring their latest cannabis creations to the class, there won't likely be any problems.

"Right now, it'll be given a low priority on our case assignments," Deputy Chief Jason Moen of the Auburn Police Department said. "But anybody that might be there possessing a drug who does not have a marijuana prescription, thus making it illegal, that would be problematic for us."

Moen, who was unaware of the upcoming class, said he would consult the attorney general's office for further discussion on whether any prosecutions related to the courses would arise.

Prescription and limited possession of medical marijuana has been allowed in Maine since 1999 -- and since 2006 in neighboring Rhode Island -- but the state's law lacked any distribution mechanism. In 2009, Maine later became the fifth state to allow medical-grade marijuana dispensaries, not-for-profit outfits to be licensed and regulated by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

The first such state-regulated dispensary on the East Coast was expected to be opened in late March in Frenchville, Maine, near the Canadian border, the Providence Journal reports. Three others are expected to open their doors by May.

Logan, who is not a licensed dispensary, said marijuana plants and associated paraphernalia are not used during the classes. He instead uses basil plants to mimic the more potent cannabis. To that end, Logan said he's not worried about running into any legal problems.

"I spoke to an attorney and he said I'm fully covered under the First Amendment," he said. "Some people may have an issue with it, but it's a new time now. There's always going to be someone who has ill feelings toward cannabis, just through a lack of knowledge about it or personal views against drugs. I hate to say it, but there are still people in the Dark Ages who don't believe in research even if it's put in front of them."

Logan's goal, quite simply, is to help those who need medical marijuana cultivate and produce bountiful plants.

"It is love and an adventure to watch this plant grow to its fullest, and it's one of our favorite goals here at MSU," his website reads. "Ray built his first [hydroponic] system in 1980 and has built, hmmm, well a few since!"

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5Mar/119

Maine to open first medicinal marijuana dispensaries on East Coast, but not without concerns

01:00 AM EST on Sunday, March 6, 2011
By Tracy Breton
Journal Staff Writer

Timothy Smale, a medicinal marijuana user, and his wife, Jenna, are planning to open a dispensary in Auburn, Maine.
Lewiston Sun Journal / Amber Waterman

 If all goes as planned, the Rhode Island Department of Health will announce Tuesday who has been selected to open dispensaries that will legally sell marijuana to patients who have been certified by doctors as needing the drug to help cope with debilitating pain or disease.

But even if the groups proposing dispensaries go on a fast track to build facilities and start growing product, Rhode Island will not be the first state in New England to open such businesses.

By the end of this month, one state-regulated dispensary will open in Frenchville, Maine, on the Canadian border, according to John Thiele, program manager for Maine’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program. It will be the first on the East Coast.

Two more dispensaries are expected to open, one in Biddeford and another in Ellsworth, by the end of April. A fourth, located in a shopping plaza in Auburn, plans to open in May, run by a couple, Tim and Jenna Smale.

Both Rhode Island and Maine have allowed medicinal marijuana for several years –– since 1999 in Maine, and beginning in 2006 in Rhode Island. The programs were started in both states to help people who claimed to get little relief from prescription drugs to cope with pain, wasting syndrome and agitation caused by a host of conditions, including cancer, HIV and Alzheimer’s disease. According to the administrators of the respective programs, it’s not elderly cancer or AIDS patients who most often register to legally use marijuana, but those with “other” chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and degenerative bone disease.

Like Rhode Island, Maine has central control over medicinal marijuana dispensaries and over their monitoring. But in Maine, there has been considerable opposition to the creation of the dispensaries and concerns over their potential effect on public safety.

In Rhode Island, where one to three dispensaries have been authorized, the opposition has been relatively muted. Cranston Mayor Alan Fung, a former state prosecutor, was one of just a few people who testified against the dispensaries at a recent Department of Health hearing on the applications by the 18 entities that want dispensary licenses.

Fung said that while he finds the concept of medicinal marijuana “noble,” he objects to the dispensaries on legal grounds. The federal government still classifies cannabis as “a dangerous drug,” he pointed out, and he thinks dispensaries will create too much work for his Police Department.

There are two dispensary proposals for Cranston and a third group wants to grow marijuana there for dispensary sale elsewhere.

Tim Smale has used medicinal marijuana for about eight years for migraine headaches, and his wife is his caregiver. They got their first taste of dispensaries when they were living in California, and “we are now tapping into all of our savings and have secured loans from trusted friends and family who have a similar vision” for their new business, Remedy Compassion Center. It will operate next door to a crafts store in a shopping plaza that also includes a Bed Bath & Beyond and a movie theater.

Thiele, the government administrator who will oversee the dispensary program in Maine, anticipates that dispensaries like the one the Smales are opening will provide a more accessible way for some of Maine’s most pain-ridden residents to legally get marijuana.

Now, as is the case in Rhode Island, people using marijuana for medical reasons must either grow it themselves or get it from a grower or caregiver.

The dispensaries in Maine are seen as a new source of revenue for a cash-strapped state which, like Rhode Island, is hungry for revenue. Product sold will be subject to Maine’s 5-percent sales tax, and everyone from patients, caregivers and officers, board members and employees of the dispensaries will have to pay annual registration fees.

But the law in Maine that is allowing the dispensaries to open –– which for the first time regulates the delivery system for medicinal marijuana –– has been hard to implement. It has also caused a lot of ill will among various constituencies.

Guy Cousins, director of the Office of Substance Abuse within the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, which now administers the medical marijuana program, testified against the bill that authorized dispensaries when it was being considered by the legislature in 2009, citing public safety issues.

Allowing patients or caregivers to possess 2½ ounces of marijuana every 15 days will lead to diversion of the drug to family members or friends, either by sale or theft, he said.

The state, he complained, will be saddled with increased administrative costs to keep track of participants in the program.

The Maine Medical Association opposed the original medical marijuana law based on “medical risks associated with marijuana use,” but took no position on the legislation authorizing dispensaries.

Roy McKinney, director of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, testified that while it might appear that the state would regulate storefront medical marijuana dispensaries like it regulates pharmacies, “nothing could be further from the truth.

Numerous California communities that have permitted dispensaries have found that they have resulted in negative and harmful secondary effects, including significant increases in traffic, crime and noise,” he said.

The Maine Chiefs of Police Association opposed the referendum that created the dispensaries. Robert Schwartz, executive director, said the group’s position was based on “public safety issues and addictions that people have had. It leads to other drugs.”

In addition to public safety concerns, there has been some push-back from municipalities. Some cities and towns in Maine have passed moratoriums to block dispensaries from opening. This has forced some dispensary operators to change site plans.

And the task of administering the program has proved to be a nightmare for Thiele, who with the help of just one data-entry operator, has been required in the last two months to process more than 1,000 applications from certified patients and caregivers. Although medicinal marijuana became legal in the state 12 years ago, registration cards were never required until Jan. 1 of this year. Because it costs money to register, most people “waited until the last minute” to do so, Thiele said.

Rhode Island has always required medical marijuana users and growers to register with the Department of Health. But the state could face a crush of applications if dispensaries suddenly opened and marijuana becomes more accessible for medicinal use.

Thiele finds that he now has a backlog of applications. Approximately 100 card applications sit on his desk, submitted by patients who’ve been certified by doctors to legally have the drug or by their designated growers. “We’re just overwhelmed,” he says, wondering out loud whether he’s ever going to find time to conduct inspections of those who get certified as caregivers and of the new dispensaries that will soon open.

Jonathan Leavitt, who heads a caregivers lobbying organization in Maine and who was the force behind a citizens initiative that collected 85,000 signatures from Maine residents to get the medical-marijuana-dispensary bill on the ballot in 2009, says “marijuana in Maine is the number-one cash crop in the state.”

“You would not believe how much of the economy of Maine is directly or indirectly related to the production of marijuana,” Leavitt said. “In small towns, members of boards of selectman and law enforcement officers are growers, dealers or patients. It’s a big fabric of Maine life, from people in their 60s and 70s to people down in their 20s. We sat in front of state representatives when we testified on the bill who grew it.”

He said one of the main reasons he was in favor of the dispensary legislation was to increase patient access to medical marijuana. In Maine, many physicians tend to be older and “not well educated about the medical benefits of marijuana,” and since much of the state is rural, patients –– some of whom still can’t even find doctors to approve marijuana use –– needed an additional supply source.

Thiele said that one of the criteria for selecting who got the dispensary licenses was their delivery systems. “They’ve promised to do home deliveries to the disabled and they’ve said they’ll deliver 7 days a week.”

But that’s the rub. Now, what Thiele referred to as Maine’s “cottage industry” of caregivers feel betrayed by what they see as “big business” dispensaries cutting into their ability to make a living.

“What’s emerged is so out of whack with what we envisioned,” Leavitt said. “When this started, we envisioned small mom and pop stores in every city and town in the state that would complement the almost nonexistent caregiver system in the state but not put the dispensaries at a big disadvantage. We envisioned a horizontal framework where caregivers and dispensaries would be on an equal footing and work symbiotically and on a scale that was really, really sustainable.

“But the legislature altered the law so significantly that we don’t think dispensaries are a viable option anymore. So much capital is required to open them that it disqualified 99.999 percent of the people of Maine from operating them.”

Medical marijuana in 2 New England states
 
Key Facts About Registries and Dispensaries R.I. Maine
Number of Doctor-Certified Patients Registered with the State 3,253 850
Number of Registered Caregivers Who Grow or Administer the Drug 2,059 191
Number of Doctors Licensed To Practice Statewide 5,621 5,071
Number of Doctors Who Have Certified Patients for Medical Marijuana Use 453 190
Number of Dispensaries Allowed by State Up to 3 8
Fee Charged by State to Medical Marijuana Dispensaries $5,000 to open, plus $5,000 renewal fee every 2 years $15,000 to open, plus $15,000 annual renewal fee
Patient Fee Charged by State to Register for Medical Marijuana Program $75 every 2 years, $10 every 2 years if on Medicaid, SSI or SSDI $100 annually, $75 annually if on Medicaid, SSI or SSDI
Caregiver Fee Charged by State to Register $75 every 2 years $300 annually
Fee Charged by State for Each Registered Principal Officer, Board Member or Employee of an Authorized Dispensary none $25 annually
Registry Cards Required by State for Hospice or Nursing Home Staff Administering Medical Marijuana no yes
Maximum Amount of Marijuana Allowed Per Person Certified for Dispensary Program 2.5 ounces every 15 days 2.5 ounces every 15 days
Caregiver Grow Maximums 5 client patients, 24 mature plants 5 client patients, 30 mature plants
Secrecy Names of patients, doctors who certify them and individual caregivers are confidential Names of patients, doctors who certify them and individual caregivers are confidential
Total Population 1 million 1.3 million

 

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