Archive for January, 2013

Maine’s medical marijuana program has new manager

January 31st, 2013

1:17 PM

Maine’s medical marijuana program has new manager

By Eric Russell
Staff Writer

Maine’s medical marijuana program, which has undergone numerous changes in recent years and could see more during the legislative session, has a new manager.

Marietta D’Agostino was hired to fill the position left vacant last November when John Thiele stepped down. She began work last week.

D’Agostino has spent her career mostly in social services, including stints as a child protective caseworker, a juvenile corrections officer and a jail captain at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset, according to information provided by the Department of Health and Human Services.

John Martins, a spokesman for DHHS, said D’Agostino was not available for an interview on Thursday.

Thiele resigned in early November but then asked to be reinstated. The department declined to take him back.

Medical marijuana advocates had expressed concern over Thiele’s sudden dismissal because they had a good working relationship with him. Paul McCarrier, legislative liaison with the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, said representatives of his group met earlier this week with D’Agostino and Kenneth Albert, who directs DHHS’ office of licensing and regulatory services.

“It was a great meeting. We were impressed with how willing they are to hear our concerns and help engineer a system that best serves patients,” McCarrier said Thursday.

Maine voters legalized marijuana for medical purposes through a citizens initiative back in 1999, but the program has undergone a significant expansion in the past few years.

In 2009, voters overwhelmingly passed a law

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Brunswick Police Beat: Jan. 25

January 24th, 2013


1/15 at 10:21 p.m. Ryan W. O’Leary, 33, no address listed, was arrested on Pleasant Street by Officer Thomas Stanton on charges of obstructing public ways, violating condition of release and sale and use of drug paraphernalia. 

1/15 at 3:04 p.m. Jeremiah L. Snape, 31, of Pollard Avenue, was arrested on Federal Street by Officer Jonathan O’Connor on a warrant.

1/16 at 11:44 a.m. Lauren A. Arsenault, 18, of Harpswell Road, was arrested on Swett Street by Sgt. Russell Wrede on charges of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer and sale and use of drug paraphernalia.

1/20 at 1:19 a.m. Christopher A. Cassidy, 26, of Irving Street, Portland, was arrested on Maine Street by Lt. Lynne Doucette on charges of disorderly conduct (fighting), refusing to submit to arrest or detention and unlawful possession of a Schedule Z drug.

1/20 at 10:45 a.m. Eric E. Laffely, 34, of Hennessey Avenue, was arrested on Pleasant Street by Officer Mark Steele Jr. on a charge of operating under the influence.

1/21 at 8:14 p.m. Richard L. Havener, 41, of Foster Point Road, West Bath, was arrested by Officer Matthew Swan on a charge of operating with a license suspended as a result of failing to pay child support.


1/18 at 11:31 a.m. Matthew A. Winn, 24, of Sunset Cove Road, Harpswell, was issued a summons on Princes Point Road by Marine Resource Officer Paul Plummer on a charge of harvesting shellfish without a town license.

1/19 at 3:43 a.m. Stephanie L. Schwab, 21, of Sturgeon Lane, was issued a summons

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Maine’s Pot Growers – Out of the Backwoods and Open for Business

January 17th, 2013


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Scarborough office pot grower wants to clear the air with neighbors

January 11th, 2013

Yesterday at 1:35 PM

Scarborough office pot grower wants to clear the air with neighbors

By Eric Russell
Staff Writer

SCARBOROUGH —The man who is growing medical marijuana in a commercial building in Scarborough said Wednesday that he doesn’t understand neighboring tenants’ objections to a wholly legal operation.

15 Pleasant HIll Rd. in Scarborough Monday, January 7, 2013 where one to the tenants is legally growing marijuana. Some tenants say the smell is bothering them but there is nothing they can do about it legally.

Related headlines

Nevertheless, Ballou Poppas of Portland said he’s working to address odor complaints and has beefed up security, now that the location of his small crop has been publicized.

Poppas, 38, did not return calls for comment Monday or Tuesday. He contacted the Portland Press Herald on Wednesday, after the newspaper published a story about complaints from a neighboring business at Pleasant Hill Place about the strong smell of marijuana.

“I’m not the first one to grow in an office and I won’t be the last,” he said. “Have you seen Colorado or California? It’s an entire industry.”

Maine’s medical marijuana program is still evolving, but advocates and town officials said growing medical marijuana in a commercial space, rather than in a home, appears to be rare — at least so far.

Scarborough officials said Poppas is the only person who has been granted a business permit to grow

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Medical marijuana smell a growing concern in Maine community

January 9th, 2013

(NECN: Amy Sinclair) – It’s now legal to grow medical marijuana in Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont and Massachusetts.

And with this new form of indoor agriculture, come many questions, like what if neighbors can’t stand the smell?

Pleasant Hill Place in Scarborough, Maine looks like any other modest office complex, but step indoors and your nostrils fill with the unmistakable odor of maturing marijuana plants.

“I just assumed it was some of the kids in that telemarketing group smoking a little marijuana and I have no problem with that,” said Shawn Swaney, owner of Swaney Lighting Associates Inc.

But last week as the smell grew stronger, Swaney discovered that it was coming from the suite directly below him, one with drawn shades and reflective covering over the door.

No one in the building, including NECN, has spoken to this tenant, but he or she is one Maine’s 800 so-called caregivers who are licensed to grow marijuana, up to six plants per client, for patients who have a doctor’s recommendation.

But Swaney is worried about the impact on his clients and staff.

“What about the second hand effect on employees? What recourse do I have?” he lamented.

When he went looking for guidance, he couldn’t find much. He says the state’s Department of Health and Human Services told him it had no authority to monitor sites

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Near legal grower, air quality goes to pot

January 9th, 2013

Posted: 10:40 PM
Updated: 10:54 PM

Near legal grower, air quality goes to pot

By Eric Russell
Staff Writer

SCARBOROUGH — Employees at Swaney Lighting Associates first noticed the smell about three months ago.

15 Pleasant HIll Rd. in Scarborough Monday, January 7, 2013 where one to the tenants is legally growing marijuana. Some tenants say the smell is bothering them but there is nothing they can do about it legally.

Shawn Swaney of Swaney Lighting Associates in his office at 15 Pleasant HIll Rd. in Scarborough Monday, January 7, 2013. Swaney says the smell of marijuana growing (legally) in the office below his is getting to him and his workers. He wants to do something about it, but legally, he cannot.

Shawn Swaney, the company’s owner, assumed it was kids smoking pot nearby. He said he has no problem with marijuana personally, and saw no reason to do or say anything.

But the smell didn’t go away. Every day when Swaney and his workers arrived, they were hit with a skunky wave of marijuana scent.

After several hours in the office, Swaney said, his eyes got red and scratchy, and his throat got irritated. Four of his six employees reported feeling ill as well.

“I’ve been here three hours and I think I have a slight buzz already,” Swaney said Monday morning.

Someone is growing marijuana in the office directly

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Vermont news crew probes Maine’s medical marijuana program

January 8th, 2013

Vermont news crew probes Maine’s medical marijuana program

A TV news crew from Vermont visited Portland’s medical marijuana dispensary Friday, hoping to shed light on how Maine’s 1999-enacted medical cannabis legalization is faring.
Vermont is in the midst of setting up its own

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Northern Maine marijuana dispensary close to resolving zoning problems with …

January 5th, 2013

FRENCHVILLE, Maine — A municipality and northern Maine’s only state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary are one step closer to an agreement granting the dispensary the necessary business zoning permits to operate in the town.

The Frenchville planning board denied a permit to Safe Alternatives Medical Marijuana Dispensary last May based on several incomplete sections of the dispensary’s permit application, including failure to pay the $500 permit fee, failure to obtain the proper boundary line variance and failure to secure an approved cultivation facility inspection by the town’s code enforcement officer.

Since then, Safe Alternatives has been operating in Frenchville under state permits while it and the town sought legal mediation, which came together last week, according to Town Manager Casey Cote.

“The town of Frenchville and Safe Alternatives participated in mediation in an effort to resolve differences and avoid a long and expensive legal proceeding,” Cote said in a statement she released Friday. “A contingent agreement was reached pending approvals by the town.”

The Frenchville Board of Selectmen meets Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. to vote on the mediated agreement, Cote said.

“This was really nothing more than a zoning matter,” said Jonathan Berry, Safe Alternative attorney of the Portland firm Berry and Dion. “Nothing has really changed. The town has a legitimate interest, and Safe Alternatives has business interests they would like to protect.”

Berry said the mediation meetings between representatives of Safe Alternatives and the town were very productive, adding, “I think we put together a

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Maine’s Medical Marijuana Program Suffering Communication Breakdown

January 3rd, 2013

Augusta –

Just a few months after the director of Maine’s medical marijuana program was dismissed, members of the medical marijuana community here in Maine say the program is in a shambles.

New rules governing Maine’s medical marijuana program went into affect December 31. But those who participate in the program and must comply with these rules say they have a problem. As of January 2, the rules still were not posted publicly and many of people had no idea whether they were breaking the law. “The worst case scenario is that you will have a patient or a caregiver who is not aware of these rules that took affect and have an interaction with law enforcement and that law enforcement will then take action against the patient or caregiver because they’re not in compliance with the rules they’re ignorant of,” said Paul McCarrier, head of the Maine Medical Marijuana Caregivers Association.

Ken Alberts, Director of Licensing and Regulatory Services at DHHS, sent out an email on December 21 to all “interested parties” which contained the rule changes. Many patients and caregivers say they signed up to be included on that mailing list but never received the email containing the rules. In the letter, Alberts also says the posting of the rules could be delayed because of the holidays, but says the adopted rules still take affect on December 31.

Patients and caregivers were part of the new rule

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