Archive for June, 2011

Obama administration tells N.J. to keep medical marijuana program small and … – The Star-Ledger

June 30th, 2011

medical.jpgTy Hull, the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary in Denver, shows off a demonstration marijuana plant in this June 2010 file photo.

TRENTON — State medical marijuana programs and the people who work for them are not likely to run afoul of federal law if they keep their operations small and controlled, and don’t allow growers to create “industrial marijuana cultivation centers,” according to an eagerly-awaited letter from the Obama administration.

The letter, obtained by The Star-Ledger this evening, comes more than two months after state Attorney General Paula Dow asked the Obama administration whether New Jersey’s future medical marijuana program could violate federal law.

Gov. Chris Christie has said he would delay the program until the federal government assures him it won’t prosecute anyone employed by the program. Possession and distribution of marijuana is a federal crime, even though 16 states have passed laws making it available to select patients.

In 2009, the Obama administration issued a memo saying it would not devote law enforcement time and money to arresting and prosecuting people involved in legitimate medical marijuana activities. But subsequent memos issued in April seemed to suggest federal law enforcement was not willing to give a blanket immunity to such programs.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman sent the letter to Dow this evening. A spokesman for Dow could not immediately be reached for comment.

Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole, in a

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Driver on bath salts arrested in Clinton

June 30th, 2011

Posted: June 30
Updated: Today at 10:15 PM

Driver on bath salts arrested in Clinton

CLINTON — A Fairfield man summoned recently for operating under the influence of drugs reportedly told police that he had consumed bath salts after he was pulled over for driving erratically.

Clinton police Chief Craig Johnson said Mitchell Morse, 51, was shaking when he admitted to consuming bath salts Friday morning after getting out of his vehicle.

Bath salts is the nickname for a synthetic stimulant legal in Maine. The relatively new designer drug is sometimes mixed with other substances and reportedly causes agitation, paranoia, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts.

Johnson said he received a report of a motorist driving erratically at 11:12 a.m. Friday and stopped Morse four minutes later on Main Street.

“A gentleman stepped out of the car and I got out of the cruiser and approached him and he was shaking all over,” said Johnson. “The man explained he wasn’t feeling good and I called for rescue.”

Johnson said after Clinton Rescue personnel examined Morse at the scene, Morse was transported to the Waterville Police Department, where Somerset County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Michael Ross performed a Drug Recognition Examination.

Johnson said Morse was summoned for operating under the influence of drugs and possession of a usable amount of marijuana.

There have been other recent reports of the use of bath salts in the area.


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Maine’s Governor Signs Law Expanding Medical Marijuana Privacy

June 30th, 2011

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Last Friday Maine Governor Paul LePage (R) signed LD 1296 into law. The legislation expands privacy protection for the state’s medical marijuana patients.

The new law eliminates the requirements for doctors to disclose information about medical cannabis patients to the state and for patients to be registered with the state to receive legal protection. It also requires law enforcement to return property seized from lawful patients within 7 days, and limits the ability of officials to seize cannabis from patients.

420timespipe small Maines Governor Signs Law Expanding Medical Marijuana PrivacyIt’s good to see a medical marijuana state actually taking steps to increase patient protections instead

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Bangor city adopts 6-month medical-marijuana moratorium – Kalamazoo Gazette

June 29th, 2011

BANGOR — The Bangor City Council has adopted a 180-day moratorium on medical marijuana businesses.

City Manager Michael Selden said the ban is to get clarification on what are called “compassion clubs” and “compassion clinics.”

“The act doesn’t really specifically talk about them,” Selden said.

Selden said the city has been asked about establishing such clubs in the city. “We’ve had somebody submit an application about it seeking a variance from the planning commission,” Selden said.

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Pot patient privacy bill gets LePage OK

June 29th, 2011


Pot patient privacy bill gets LePage OK

By Michael Shepherd
Staff Writer


AUGUSTA — Maine’s medical marijuana laws, wrought by activists and enshrined by legislative Democrats, got a boost from conservatives last week when Gov. Paul LePage signed a bill liberalizing the state’s policy.



L.D. 1296, “An Act To Amend the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act To Protect Patient Privacy,” sponsored by Rep. Deborah Sanderson, R-Chelsea, eliminates the mandate that patients register with the state.

Sanderson’s bill also scales back mandatory disclosure to the state of a patient’s specific medical condition.

When the law takes effect, patients will need only tote physicians’ recommendations on tamper-proof paper, instead of the registration cards they carry now, in case of police intervention, Sanderson said.

She said prescribing doctors’ contact information will have to be placed on the card.

Caregivers — the people patients entrust with providing them marijuana — still have to register with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

Sanderson said the bill’s main focus was privacy.

“One of the reasons many patients don’t want to register is that they’re sensitive about their conditions,” Sanderson said. “They also don’t want the federal government to gain access to that database. That fear is legitimate.”

In 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder directed federal prosecutors not to prosecute marijuana users who conform with state medical marijuana laws. But in 2011, Holder wrote letters to officials in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, directing them not to liberalize medical marijuana laws.

Rep. Benjamin Chipman, a

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Maine: Governor Signs Law Expanding Privacy, Other Legal Protections For …

June 28th, 2011

At a time when lawmakers in several states are seeking to limit or suspend their medical marijuana programs, Maine lawmakers are expanding patients’ protections and access under the law.

On Friday, Republican Gov. Paul LePage signed legislation, LD 1296, into law on that enhances privacy protections for qualified medical cannabis patients.

The measure eliminates a 2010 legislative mandate requiring medical marijuana patients to be registered with the state in order to receive legal protection under state law. It also eliminates language requiring physician’s to disclose a patient’s specific medical condition with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition, LD 1296 limits the ability of law enforcement to seize cannabis from lawful patients, and mandates for the return of any seized property within seven days.

Only two additional states – California and Washington – do not require patients to be registered with the state to receive limited legal protections.

The new law takes effect in approximately 90 days.

In March, Safe Alternatives, the first state-regulated medical marijuana dispensary on the East Coast, opened in Frenchville, Maine. Since then, two additional dispensaries have opened their doors. The state expects to have eight licensed dispensaries up and running imminently.

Additional information on this study will appear in this week’s NORML news update. To receive these e-mail updates free, please sign up here.


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Bill in Mass. would legalize medical marijuana

June 28th, 2011

BOSTON — Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a bill that would legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Sen. Stanley Rosenberg of Amherst and Brookline Rep. Frank Smizik are co-sponsoring the bill. They say it would establish a registration process for patients suffering from chronic or debilitating illnesses, such as cancer or AIDS.

A physician would need to confirm the condition in writing for a patient to receive marijuana from one of the 19 dispensaries planned under the bill.

Patients and dispensaries would be registered with the Department of Public Health, which would regulate the process.

Sufferers of chronic illness showed overwhelming support for the bill Tuesday at a hearing of the Legislature’s public health committee.

Medical marijuana is legal in 16 states, including Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine.

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Hearing Scheduled for Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts

June 28th, 2011 logo

6/27/2011 – The first public hearing this legislative session on a bill to legalize medical cannabis in Massachusetts will take place tomorrow, June 28th. The Joint Committee on Public Health will begin testimony at 10AM on H.625. The measure would allow doctors to recommend cannabis and regulate up to nineteen “Medical Treatment Centers” for marijuana across the state.

Representative Frank Smizick (D-Brookline) is sponsoring the bill and issued this statement: “ I’ve met patients with ALS, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, cancer, and other serious diseases who cannot tolerate the side effects of available medications or find them ineffective.  Some of these patients have been able to reduce their intake of toxic or addictive medications and others have been able to stay on life-prolonging treatments like chemotherapy by using medical marijuana. As long as use is approved by a doctor, medical marijuana should be an available treatment option for these individuals, just as it is in Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont,” said Smizik.

Matthew Allen at the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance said that residents want to see the law passed. “There is huge public support right now for this reform,” said Allen, “Polling shows 81 percent of residents want us to be the next medical marijuana state. Patients, public health professionals and other groups will be there tomorrow to testify.”

There is also stronger support this session among legislators. “We did triple our co-sponsors between last session

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Testimony shines light on medical marijuana battle

June 27th, 2011
June 27, 2011

A former Atascadero resident testified Thursday that large marijuana growers hide behind the cover of medical marijuana while growing hundreds of pounds of illegal weed to sell for big bucks on the black market. [NECN]

“Everybody’s in this for money. Don’t let anybody fool you,” Thomas Bletko, 51, testified in Josephine County Circuit Court in Oregon. “It’s all done under the guise of being medical.”

Bletko and Brenda Thomas, the manager of the Hemp and Cannabis Foundation clinic in Grants Pass, were licensed to produce 19.5 pounds of marijuana. Oregon State Police arrested Thomas and Bletko after they seized 200 pounds of pot valued at about $500,000 from Thomas’ farm in Grants Pass, Oregon.

“You don’t grow half a million dollars worth of pot for medical patients,” Bletko said.

Bletko turned state’s evidence in exchange for no jail time and 18 months of non-supervised probation for testifying against Thomas. The foundation, headed by longtime Portland marijuana activist Paul Stanford, has clinics in nine states, where doctors examine patients looking for state authorization to use pot to treat medical conditions, NECN reported.

Under Oregon’s medical marijuana law, patients can have someone else grow pot for them, but growers cannot charge patients for the marijuana they produce. They can only collect for expenses, such as electricity and fertilizer, NECN said.

Prosecutors contend Bletko and Thomas planned to sell a small amount of the pot to the clinics. They said the remainder was to be

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Review of legislative session

June 26th, 2011


Posted: 12:00 AM

Review of legislative session

Regulatory reform

A keystone measure for this session was L.D. 1, sponsored by House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, and Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry. The wide-ranging bill was the product of a Republican campaign promise to make Maine more business-friendly.

After some proposals by Gov. Paul LePage drew public opposition, a bipartisan group of lawmakers crafted a package of reforms that passed unanimously in the Senate and with just three dissenting votes in the House. The bill was signed into law by LePage on June 13.

Among other things, it will provide more support for small businesses that must negotiate state regulations, loosen environmental rules to allow beneficial reuse of hazardous materials, and offer incentives for companies to self-report environmental violations.

It also will create an advocate to assist small-business people who feel they have been treated inappropriately by any state agency.

Turnpike authority overhaul 

Lawmakers approved measures to restructure the quasi-governmental Maine Turnpike Authority.

In January, the Legislature’s accountability office issued a report on the turnpike authority that uncovered lavish spending for travel and nearly $200,000 for gift cards that couldn’t be documented. The findings led to the resignation the turnpike authority’s longtime director, Paul Violette, in March.
The changes:

• Make the turnpike authority’s executive director subject to confirmation by the Senate.

• Allow members of the board of directors to be removed for

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