Archive for February, 2014

Pot distributor likely to settle complaints by Maine workers

February 28th, 2014

Posted: 10:46 AM
Updated: 12:21 AM

A federal review of organizing efforts at Wellness Collection is a first in the up-and-coming legal-marijuana industry, a union says.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON — Federal officials have found “reasonable cause” that Maine’s largest medical marijuana distributor violated laws protecting workers, in one of the nation’s first labor cases involving the burgeoning legal cannabis industry.

Matt LaMourie

But an attorney for Wellness Connection of Maine, which operates four medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, and a National Labor Relations Board official said the parties are within days of settling the claims to avoid civil proceedings against the company.

Complaints filed on behalf of former employees of the company include claims that Wellness Connection retaliated against employees who raised concerns about pesticide use, interfered with workers’ rights to unionize and solicited workers to oppose the union.

Matt LaMourie, a Portland-based attorney for Wellness Connection of Maine, said, “Based on the discussions that I have had with the NLRB, I am very confident that we are going to be able to reach a settlement agreement with the agency.”

Meanwhile, the national labor union that’s advocating for the Maine workers saw national precedent in the case.

“It is significant that the National Labor Relations Board took a look at this new industry and said, ‘Yes, these workers have the right to work collectively,’ ” said Evan Yeats, spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

The

Article source: http://www.kjonline.com/news/National_labor_board_to_hear_complaint_from_Maine_medical_marijuana_workers_.html

National labor board to hear complaint from Maine medical marijuana workers

February 27th, 2014

Posted: 10:46 AM
Updated: 2:10 PM

Employees of Wellness Connection say they were retaliated against for trying to join a union.

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The National Labor Relations Board has agreed to hear a complaint by workers of a Maine company that operates four medical marijuana dispensaries who say they were retaliated against for trying to join a union.

The complaint before the national labor board involves 10 alleged instances in which Wellness Connection violated the National Labor Relations Act and the rights of its employees.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

It is the first time the national board has recognized that federal labor laws apply to employees in the medical marijuana industry.

Last February, workers at a marijuana cultivation site in Auburn operated by Wellness Connection of Maine walked out in protest over the use of pesticides. That led employees to allege additional complaints over safety and working conditions, as well as allegations that supervisors interfered with workers’ interest in joining the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents medical marijuana workers in six other states.

“Only by sticking together, we were able to find the strength to speak out about the gross violations that we saw at work,” Jenifer Moody, a former Wellness employee, said in a statement. “By fighting for our union, we are protecting our customers and shaping the medical marijuana industry into a safe and well-regulated industry that provides good

Article source: http://www.kjonline.com/news/National_labor_board_to_hear_complaint_from_Maine_medical_marijuana_workers_.html

More Than 40 Maine Lawmakers Sign Memo Urging Consideration of Marijuana …

February 24th, 2014
  • 24 Feb 2014 11:23

  • Written by Press Release

  • Category: Latest National News

melegaMAINE–(ENEWSPF)–February 24, 2014.  On Friday, more than 40 state lawmakers in Maine co-signed a memo authored by State Representative Diane Russell that was delivered to the Appropriations Financial Affairs Committee. The memo encouraged the committee to keep all options on the table in their upcoming financial deliberations, including potential tax revenue derived from an adult, non-medical market for marijuana.

“All options should be on the table,” Rep. Russell stated in the memo, “In this spirit, we propose committee members give serious consideration to the revenue options associated with legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis for responsible adult use.”

The memo was signed by prominent elected officials in the state including Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Allagash), House Majority Leader Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham), Minority Whip Alex Willette (R-Mapleton), and House Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Richard Farnsworth, D-Portland.

In 2013, the Maine House of Representatives fell just four votes short of approving a measure introduced by Rep. Russell which would have placed the issue of marijuana legalization before voters during the fall elections.

Last week, initial tax revenue estimates for the sales tax on recreational marijuana in Colorado were estimated to be just shy of 100 million dollars, far higher than the initial 70 million dollar estimate given to voters in 2012.

Source: http://norml.org/

 

 

Article source: http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/latest-national/latest-national-news/50399-more-than-40-maine-lawmakers-sign-memo-urging-consideration-of-marijuana-legalization.html

Maine Pot Growers, Bankers Skeptical of New Federal Guidelines

February 24th, 2014

Pot plants 2

In October, the list of conditions which can be treated with medical marijuana was expanded to include post-traumatic-stress-disorder, Parkinson disease and others.  According to some estimates this could see the number of licensed marijuana caregivers in Maine more than double, to as many as 3,000.

Paul McCarrier is an advocate for the group Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, which represents the state’s estimated 1,300 caregivers. He says the situation is a problem.

“Caregivers are legitimate businesses here in the state and we’re continuing to try to work to make sure that we can serve more patients,” McCarrier says. “And as more patients come into the medical marijunana program, there’s going to be a need for caregivers to have access to banking.”

McCarrier’s says he dubious, however, about the effectiveness of new government-issued guidelines, because they do not represent a change in the law. “This is just a memo which has no legal standing in court,” he says.

The banking situation was highlighted recently by U.S. House Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon at a congressional hearing on federal marijuana policy.

“Federal law forces legitimate marijuana businesses to be entirely cash,” Blumenauer said. “They can’t get a bank account and delivering their tax payments with shopping bags full of cash – if you care about money laundering, if you care about tax evasion and theft – is crazy. It’s just crazy.”

“I was quite surprised when

Article source: http://www.mpbn.net/News/MaineNewsArchive/tabid/181/ctl/ViewItem/mid/3475/ItemId/32269/Default.aspx

Marijuana musical comes to Portland

February 23rd, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine has hundreds of licensed caregivers cultivating marijuana for people with health issues. As the cottage industry booms, it was only a matter of time before someone set it to music.

Jonathan Leavitt of Sumner, is taking a crack with “Somewhere, Maine: The Marijuana Musical.”

Coming to Port City Music Hall on April 20, the theatrical romp follows a cast of characters working on a pot farm in western Maine in 2009. They dance, sing, perform burlesque and put a new spin on misunderstood and oft-maligned industry.

Leavitt, who led the 2009 medical marijuana initiative in Maine, didn’t have to dig deep for material.

“The characters are all about people whose lives are real,” said the marijuana farmer, writer, activist and musician who runs Open Sky Farm in Sumner. “It’s an interesting story about a guy whose children are taken away because of marijuana.

“Let’s just say this story is very familiar to me,” he said.

The all-Maine cast consists of actors and musicians from Oxford County and the Portland area.

There’s Jezebel, a home-schooled Christian girl trying to save souls through music; sensuous healer Mother Mary Jane, who runs a smoke easy; and Joe Oliver, a war veteran returning home from Afghanistan with “some serious PTSD issues,” said Leavitt.

The drama unfolds at the home of country music outlaw Johnny Crashed, played by Leavitt.

Leavitt’s alter ego, Crashed, composed original music such as “Redneck Revenge” and “Home Schooled Christian Girl” for the show. Dancing is encouraged.

“There are elements of comedy and drama, dance,” said director

Article source: http://bangordailynews.com/2014/02/23/living/marijuana-musical-comes-to-portland/?ref=LivingBox

Windsor driver sentenced to six years for killing Augusta woman

February 23rd, 2014

Posted: February 21
Updated: Today at 12:32 AM

Joshua A. Erskine was sentenced Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court, where he apologized to the family of Ruth Epperson, 81.

By Craig Crosby
Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — A Windsor man who two years ago was high on pills and marijuana when the Jeep he was driving struck and killed a city woman as she walked on a sidewalk along North Belfast Avenue is headed to prison.

Sentenced to prison: Attorney Pam Ames, right, stands beside Joshua A. Erskine, 25, as he apologizes to the family of 81-year-old Ruth Epperson during sentencing on Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta.

Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Joshua A. Erskine, 26, was sentenced Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court to 12 years in prison with all but six years suspended for killing 81-year-old Ruth Epperson during a crash on March 30, 2012. Erskine, whose driver’s license will be suspended for at least 10 years, also was sentenced to four years probation during which he will be prohibited from consuming drugs or alcohol and will be subject to random search and testing.

Justice Michaela Murphy said the sentence was an attempt to balance Erskine’s remorse and unblemished criminal record against the reckless and criminal conduct that killed a woman

Article source: http://www.kjonline.com/news/Windsor_driver_sentenced_to_six_years_for_killing_Augusta_woman_.html

Legalization is not the only choice

February 22nd, 2014

In a recent statewide study, 52% of Maine’s high school aged youth said regular marijuana use was not harmful, an increase from 45% in 2009 (Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, 2013). Many of us in the field of substance abuse prevention and health promotion believe this is an unintended negative consequence of Maine’s decriminalization and medicinal marijuana laws. And research tells us that increasing access to and normalizing a drug does in fact increase the likelihood that people, especially youth, will use and abuse the drug.

Most Maine adults over 26 (93%) do not smoke marijuana. While most people seem to agree that they are against youth use, what about the third (27%) of Mainers between the ages of 18 and 25 who used marijuana in the past month (National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2010)?

Scientific research reveals more every day about the harmful effects of marijuana, especially to the brain which is not fully developed until the age of 26. Comparing marijuana to any other drug is a red herring to confuse the subject. Marijuana’s harmful effects and addictive qualities are different than other drugs. Whether some harmful effects are “better” or “worse” than other drugs is not the point.

Let’s be clear: marijuana is addictive. Approximately 9% who use marijuana become addicted. For those who start using as teens, 17% become addicted. For daily users, it’s 25-50% (National Co-morbidity Survey, 1994). In 2011 marijuana was the illicit drug with the highest rate of past year dependence or abuse in

Article source: http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140222/GJOPINION_0102/140229737/-1/FOSOPINION

Windsor driver sentenced to six years for killing Augusta woman

February 22nd, 2014

Posted: 11:53 PM
Updated: 12:32 AM

Joshua A. Erskine was sentenced Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court, where he apologized to the family of Ruth Epperson, 81.

By Craig Crosby
Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — A Windsor man who two years ago was high on pills and marijuana when the Jeep he was driving struck and killed a city woman as she walked on a sidewalk along North Belfast Avenue is headed to prison.

Sentenced to prison: Attorney Pam Ames, right, stands beside Joshua A. Erskine, 25, as he apologizes to the family of 81-year-old Ruth Epperson during sentencing on Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta.

Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Joshua A. Erskine, 26, was sentenced Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court to 12 years in prison with all but six years suspended for killing 81-year-old Ruth Epperson during a crash on March 30, 2012. Erskine, whose driver’s license will be suspended for at least 10 years, also was sentenced to four years probation during which he will be prohibited from consuming drugs or alcohol and will be subject to random search and testing.

Justice Michaela Murphy said the sentence was an attempt to balance Erskine’s remorse and unblemished criminal record against the reckless and criminal conduct that killed a woman who, by

Article source: http://www.pressherald.com/news/Windsor_driver_sentenced_to_six_years_for_killing_Augusta_woman_.html

Windsor driver sentenced to six years for killing Augusta woman

February 21st, 2014

Posted: 1:34 PM
Updated: 4:58 PM

Joshua A. Erskine was sentenced Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court, where he apologized to the family of Ruth Epperson, 81.

By Craig Crosby ccrosby@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — A Windsor man who two years ago was high on pills and marijuana when the Jeep he was driving struck and killed a city woman as she walked on a sidewalk along North Belfast Avenue is headed to prison.

Sentenced to prison: Attorney Pam Ames, right, stands beside Joshua A. Erskine, 25, as he apologizes to the family of 81-year-old Ruth Epperson during sentencing on Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Joshua A. Erskine, 26, was sentenced Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court to 12 years in prison with all but six years suspended for killing 81-year-old Ruth Epperson during a crash on March 30, 2012. Erskine, whose driver’s license will be suspended for at least 10 years, also was sentenced to four years probation during which he will be prohibited from consuming drugs or alcohol and will be subject to random search and testing.

Justice Michaela Murphy said the sentence was an attempt to balance Erskine’s remorse and unblemished criminal record against the reckless and criminal conduct that

Article source: http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/Windsor_driver_sentenced_to_six_years_for_killing_Augusta_woman_.html

Kennebec Journal police log

February 19th, 2014

5:40 PM

Augusta area police reports for Feb. 19, 2014

Two injured in Route 202 crash

Accident: Two vehicles were totaled about 1:15 p.m. Wednesday on U.S. Route 202 in Winthrop.

Contributed photo

WINTHROP — Two people were hurt in a crash on U.S. Route 202 Wednesday.

Winthrop Police Officer Timothy Falvey said none of the injuries were believed to be life threatening. Falvey did not release the names of those involved.

The crash occurred around 1:15 p.m., as a 2005 Chrysler van pulled out of Main Street and attempted to turn east on U.S. 202 where the east and westbound lanes are separated by a median. The van pulled in front of a 2010 Subaru Forester that was westbound, Falvey said. The Subaru hit the front end of the van.

The van’s driver said she didn’t see the Subaru because of a high snowbank at the intersection.

“It can be a problem there,” Falvey said.

One of the van’s four passengers was taken to Central Maine Medical Center after complaining of chest pain from being struck by the airbag.

The Subaru’s driver, who was alone in the car, was taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta after complaining of pain.

Both vehicles were totaled.

Westbound traffic was diverted from U.S. 202 onto Main Street for about 30 minutes, Falvey said.

Augusta

Feb. 12: A 28-year-old was charged with violating conditions of release at the Maine State Police Troop D barracks on Hospital

Article source: http://www.kjonline.com/news/246232211.html