Archive for December, 2012

What Are the Next States to Legalize Marijuana?

December 31st, 2012

After the marijuana-policy-reform movement’s huge victories in Colorado and Washington on November 6, many people are asking, “What states will be next to enact measures to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol?” (We refer to these as “TR” bills or initiatives.)

It is important to note that this pair of 55 percent victories would have been less resounding had they appeared on the ballot during a midterm election. Presidential elections traditionally attract far more voters, many of whom are younger and more supportive of TR than older voters. And when there are more voters, there tends to be more support shown for ending marijuana prohibition.

With that in mind, here is what the Marijuana Policy Project will be pursuing from 2013 to 2016.

1. Alaska: Unfortunately, Alaska law currently only allows voter initiatives to be placed on the primary election ballot, so we will attempt to pass a TR initiative in August 2014. Fortunately, Alaska voters have traditionally been more supportive of TR than voters in any other state. Only 100,000 Alaskans are expected to vote in August 2014, so the universe of voters we need to persuade is quite small.

2. Rhode Island: MPP separately legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized marijuana possession in Rhode Island in 2009 and 2012, respectively. We’re now lobbying the state legislature to pass a TR bill, which could very well happen in 2014 or 2015. Regardless of which year this happens, Rhode Island will almost certainly be the first state to pass a TR measure through the

Article source:

Medical-marijuana caregivers: a growing need

December 27th, 2012


“Common Sensi” is our new series covering the local impact of a national cannabis revolution.

In his Oxford shirts and slacks, Gary still looks like the network engineer he used to be. But his current occupation is far from average. He lives in Maine with his wife, two older children, and nearly three dozen cannabis plants.

Gary is one of hundreds of medical-marijuana caregivers registered in his state, legally permitted to cultivate cannabis and sell it to up to five patients. As Massachusetts joins Maine and 16 other states in legalizing medical marijuana, there’s much speculation about how our Department of Public Health will regulate dispensaries. But caregiver crops like the one in Gary’s basement will be flowering throughout the Commonwealth by DPH’s May 1 deadline.

Gary asked me not to publish his last name. He says he keeps his business on the DL, partly because of the social stigma tied to growing and selling marijuana, but primarily out of fear of being robbed.

“It’s completely normal and legal [on a state level], but it’s still a dark art,” he says. “I still sing in the choir at church,” he adds, “but my church doesn’t know what I do.”

Because he can’t advertise directly, Gary found his patients through an online network called the Compassionate Caregivers of Maine, a nonprofit organization that helps medical-marijuana patients connect with caregivers. The service plays a crucial role in a state where medical marijuana is legal but dispensaries are

Article source:

Mainers have medical marijuana advice for Mass.

December 26th, 2012

(NECN: Amy Sinclair) – On Jan. 1, Massachusetts will become the 18th state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The Department of Public Health will then have another year to figure out how the program will work and to license at least 14, but no more than 35, non-profit treatment centers.

Medical marijuana is already legal in Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island, but the most established program in New England is in the state of Maine.

Dr. Dustin Sulak, an osteopath who practices in both Hallowell and Falmouth, is one of the state’s leading advocates.  

“The demand for it is huge, and it’s because we’re getting great results,” says Sulak.

Sulak and other Maine physicians can certify patients for marijuana use if they have one of the qualifying conditions outlined in the state law. That includes cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Crohn’s Disease and chronic pain.

Sgt. Ryan Begin of Montville, Maine went to see Sulak for chronic pain stemming from an injury sustained from a bomb explosion in Iraq in 2004. Begin, who smokes between four and seven joints per day, says he prefers marijuana to the heavy narcotics that were presribed for him at the VA hospital.

“I can think better now. I feel good about my life and I take zero pills,” Begin says.

Here in Maine, patients can use up 

Article source:

‘Pot’ cookies lead to criminal charges against Cape Elizabeth students

December 26th, 2012

CAPE ELIZABETH — Three juveniles were arrested and charged with drug trafficking for their alleged roles in the distribution of marijuana-laced cookies Dec. 7 at Cape Elizabeth High School.

Police Department Capt. Brent Sinclair on Wednesday said two 17-year-old boys and a 15-year-old boy were charged with aggravated trafficking of scheduled drugs for allegedly selling the cookies to other students at the school.

In addition to the drug trafficking charges, 18-year-old Samuel Sherman, of Cape Elizabeth, and seven Cape Elizabeth boys were issued summonses for possession of marijuana. Four of the juveniles are 16 years old; three are 15.

The students are alleged to have sold and ingested the cookies at school before some of them attended a day-long TEDxYouth event – part of a worldwide series of discussions designed to empower and inspire young people, which was being hosted for the first time by a Maine high school. The cookies were discovered after some of the students became ill and required medical assistance from the school nurse.

Prior to the arrests, eight students received two-day suspensions from school and a ninth student was suspended for 10 days. That student also faces possible expulsion by the School Board because of violations of the School Department drug policy.

The investigation involved at least three officers, Sinclair said.

“We are hoping this concludes it,” he said. “(There is) no other information at this point.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter:

Article source:

Maine, Marijuana and the Rise of the Independents

December 16th, 2012

The resounding vote last month by statewide referenda in Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana has fired up new impetus to allow Maine voters the same opportunity. That was reflected by the announcement of State Representative Diane Russell, formerly of Bryant Pond but now of Portland, of her intent to re-introduce a bill to, in effect, put marijuana on a par with alcohol use under state law. The bill would thus authorize its use, subject to taxation, by those over 21. Though a similar bill Russell sponsored two years ago lost 107 to 39 in the House, Russell expects to pick up more support for the measure in the upcoming session, in part because she has attached a referendum rider to this year’s bill.

Maine has long been in the vanguard of the de-criminalization arena. As far back as 1976, for example, the state became one of the first in the nation to take the criminal bite out of possession for small amounts — usually less than an 1¼. Maine then substituted a “civil violation” for which a forfeiture of no more than $200 could be assessed (the maximum has since been increased to $600.). Even today, only 13 other states have taken this step.

In 1979, the Maine Legislature, then controlled by Republicans, passed a law endorsing medical marijuana. However, since the bill required that supplies of the drug had to be first made available through the government it never went into effect.

In 1999, we were only the seventh state to

Article source:

Obama: Recreational pot not feds’ concern

December 15th, 2012

1:00 AM

Obama: Recreational pot not feds’ concern

Federal agents have ‘a lot to do,’ he says, without dogging users in the states where an ounce is legal.


WASHINGTON – President Obama says federal authorities should not target recreational marijuana use in two Western states that voted to make it legal, given limited government resources and growing public acceptance of the controlled substance.

Obama’s first comments on the issue come weeks after Washington state and Colorado voters supported legalizing cannabis last month in ballot measures that stand in direct opposition of federal law.

“It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that’s legal,” he told ABC News in part of an interview released Friday. “At this point (in) Washington and Colorado, you’ve seen the voters speak on this issue. And, as it is, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions,” he said.

Marijuana remains an illegal drug under U.S. federal law, but Washington and Colorado on Nov. 6 became the first states in the nation to make it legal for individuals to possess up to an ounce of it for private use.

The Department of Justice has maintained that pot remains a federally controlled substance, and states have been looking for guidance from federal authorities on how they will handle the conflict with state laws.

Obama’s comments do not mean that Justice Department officials have completed

Article source:

Marijuana meds: Should docs have pot-prescribing freedom? Other states say no

December 14th, 2012

Dashboard 1

AUGUSTA, Maine — The new Maine Legislature likely will consider a bill that would free patients seeking medical marijuana from the requirement that they be diagnosed with at least one of a list of “debilitating medical conditions” defined in the law.

Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, plans to submit the legislation, the latest proposed modification to the medical marijuana law first approved by Maine voters in 1999. If the bill passes, Maine will become the first state to leave discretion for recommending medical marijuana exclusively to physicians.

Advocates for the change contend that giving physicians greater latitude in determining whether patients would benefit from using medical marijuana, regardless of whether their diagnosis fits the specific criteria now set in the law, would extend protections to Mainers who want to comply with the law and ensure that doctors and patients, not lawmakers and bureaucrats, control treatment decisions.

“Right now patients who could benefit from protections of the law are either forced to go into the black market or be less than honest with their doctor about other qualifying conditions,” said Alysia Melnick of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine.

A key element of the change would be to allow physicians to recommend medical marijuana for behavioral and mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder experienced by veterans returning from war and others who have experienced trauma.

The Maine Medical Association opposes the proposed changes, according to Gordon Smith, the association’s

Article source:

Advocates seek wider use for medical marijuana

December 13th, 2012

December 6

Advocates seek wider use for medical marijuana

By Eric Russell
Staff Writer

Medical marijuana advocates in Maine are promoting new legislation that would deregulate the state’s program further by allowing doctors to certify patients for any medical conditions.

Mark Dion

“We really feel like it’s the doctor’s right to certify patients without restriction,” said Paul McCarrier, legislative liaison for Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine.

Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, a strong supporter of Maine’s medical marijuana program, said he will sponsor the bill in the upcoming legislative session.

“We don’t tell doctors what they can and can’t do for any other type of medication. Why should we for medical marijuana?” Dion said.

Maine law allows doctors to certify patients only if they meet one of several specific conditions: cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), hepatitis C, Alzheimer’s disease, seizure disorders, severe muscle spasms and intractable pain.

The last three conditions were added as part of a 2009 law that also created the state’s dispensary program and allowed certified caregivers to grow marijuana for up to five patients.

Although Maine’s expanded medical marijuana program still is evolving, experts say the number of patients who have been certified has grown tremendously since the 2009 law went into effort. However, patients also no longer have to register with the state, which means there’s no way to know exactly how many people are using it, how many doctors are certifying patients for

Article source:

Coalition calls for increased access to medical marijuana for patients – WCSH

December 13th, 2012



FALMOUTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A coalition of legislators, care givers and patients are supporting legislation that seeks to abolish a list of approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be prescribed, saying doctors should have the ability to decide who would benefit from the drug.

“The best people positioned to make medical decisions about the patient are in fact the patient and his or her doctor,” stated representative Mark Dion, who plans on submitting a bill to the legislature that would allow doctors to decide what illnesses or conditions should be treated through the use of marijuana.

“This is a safe medicine.  It is an effective medicine. We want to be able to bring it to more people, not just the severely ill,” explained Dr. Dustin Sulak, an advocate for the proposed legislation. 

“The list of conditions under which I was operating was limited, and didn’t make a lot of sense from a medical perspective,” he added.  “Of course, under any other medical treatment, it is the physician’s ability to evaluate the risks, the benefits, and the particular individual situation of the patient.”

Not everyone agrees the law needs to be changed.  The Maine Medical Association (MMA), which represents more than 3600 Maine physicians and medical professionals, says marijuana is different from most drugs doctors prescribe, because it is

Article source:

9 Students Suspended After Eating Marijuana-Laced Cookies During Assembly

December 11th, 2012

CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine (CBS Connecticut) — A Maine high school suspends nine students after they ate cookies laced with marijuana during a school ethics assembly.

The Forecaster reports that the students consumed the pot cookies during a day-long TEDxYouth event at Cape Elizabeth High School last Friday and got caught after some of the students began feeling sick.

The student that supplied the cookies received a 10-day suspension while the other students who ate them received a two-day suspension, according to The Forecaster.

Cape Elizabeth Police Capt. Brent Sinclair tells the Portland Press Herald that no students were taken to the hospital and that an investigation is ongoing.

None of the students’ names have been released.

 9 Students Suspended After Eating Marijuana Laced Cookies During Assembly

Article source: