Archive for April, 2016

Maine to vote on recreational marijuana in November

April 30th, 2016

(Photo Credit: Pixabay)

(Photo Credit: Pixabay)

Petitioners in Maine have spent months working to obtain enough signatures to initiate a statewide vote on legal recreational marijuana. Secretary of State, Matthew Dunlap, announced Wednesday that the seven circulators have received enough approved signatures for the measure to appear on the November ballot, according to the Cannabist.

The petition organizers hit a roadblock in early March when the state refused to recognize 17,000 supporters due to signature mismatch. Activists fought a legal battle so these names could be counted, and after months of struggle they surpassed the minimum of 61,123 signatures.

David Boyer, a member of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, believes Maine is taking a smart step to regulate the drug. 

“We think that regulation and controlling marijuana and putting it behind the counter is a far better approach than giving drug dealers a monopoly,” Boyer said.

The bill will appear on the 2016 ballot and if passed would legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for any adult 21 and older. It also

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Marijuana legalization cleared for Maine ballot

April 30th, 2016

The campaign to legalize marijuana is likely headed to Maine voters this fall.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap determined Wednesday that the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol had gathered more than the 61,123 signatures needed on petitions from registered Maine voters to qualify for the ballot. That clears the way for the signed petitions to be submitted to the Legislature.


Lawmakers must either pass the legalization proposal as written – which is extremely unlikely – or allow Maine voters to decide the issue this November.

Dunlap’s decision came after a state court ordered him to take another look at the signatures his office invalidated during its initial review. More 21,000 were invalidated because of “significant variances” between the notary signatures on the petition sheets and those on file with his office.

“Seven circulators whose petition signatures were invalidated due to the notary signature of Stavros Mendros have submitted affidavits swearing under oath that they signed their petitions in front of Mendros as notary,” Dunlap’s office said in a statement Wednesday. “Based on those sworn statements, Secretary Dunlap has now certified the 11,305 signatures collected by those circulators that meet the requirements to be included as valid signatures, despite the variability in the original notary signature on the circulator’s oath.”

Earlier Wednesday, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley removed the last roadblock to Dunlap’s final review of the signatures when she rejected an individual’s request to intervene. In the end, Dunlap’s

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Maine Voices: Elephants won’t forget that a long crusade on their behalf began here

April 30th, 2016

FALMOUTH — On Sunday in Providence, Rhode Island, Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus is scheduled to have its last performance using elephants. The 146-year-old tradition, which has been deeply ingrained in our culture, will end.

The past three decades have been a tumultuous time for Feld Entertainment, the parent company for Ringling circuses, as the public learned how circus elephants are trained, kept, used and disposed of. The plight of these great creatures grew into a major issue within the animal protection movement.

about the author

Robert Fisk Jr. is a former Maine legislator who currently serves as president and executive director of Maine Friends of Animals in Falmouth.


As columnist Alex Beam recently wrote in The Boston Globe: “In 1955, Ringling paraded 50 elephants down Manhattan’s Second Avenue on their way to Madison Square Garden. A Ringling circus now has only five elephants, and they often steal into cities at nighttime to avoid animal rights protesters.”

Cruelty to circus elephants involves their submission to painful bullhooks and being chained at the ankle much of their lives, forced and beaten to learn unnatural acts, and eventually sold off to roadside exhibitors when no longer useful – in total, a miserable existence for such a free-roaming, immensely intelligent and social gentle giant.

The end of this tradition brings much joy and relief among many in the animal protection movement. It has been a long, hard battle, one in which Maine was very much a

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The Latest: Maine Lawmakers Solar Veto & Jail Funding

April 30th, 2016

The Latest: Maine Lawmakers Solar Veto Jail Funding

The Maine Legislature has adjourned.

Lawmakers wrapped up business Friday without action on a late proposal by Republican Gov. Paul LePage to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour.

The Democratic-controlled House voted to indefinitely postpone the bill. And the bill died when the Legislature adjourned its session.

Many Democrats oppose the bill, saying it’s an attempt to undermine a referendum proposal set for the November ballot to lift the minimum wage to $12.

The Legislature voted overwhelmingly to override Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill to increase the availability of a drug overdose antidote.

The Senate voted 29-5 and the House 132-14 to reject the veto.

The governor opposed the proposal to allow pharmacists to provide the lifesaving drug Narcan without a prescription under some circumstances to friends and family members of addicts believed to be at risk of an overdose from opioids.

The idea was to make it more widely available in light of Maine’s heroin epidemic.

A proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Maine is going to be on the November ballot.

The Legislature voted to send the proposal to voters. Lawmakers had had the option of either approving the bill as written, or letting it appear on the ballot.

The secretary of state announced earlier this week that referendum supporters had enough valid signatures to meet the threshold for the ballot.

The measure would legalize marijuana for recreational use for adults 21 and older, allowing them to possess up to 2.5 ounces of processed

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Marijuana legalization officially in Maine voters’ hands

April 29th, 2016

AUGUSTA — It’s official: Maine voters will decide this November whether to legalize marijuana.

On Friday, the legalization campaign cleared the final procedural hurdle to place the issue on this fall’s statewide ballot. That happened when House and Senate lawmakers opted not to approve a citizen initiative seeking to allow adults to possess marijuana but, instead, sent the issue to voters.

It will join four other referendum questions that have already qualified for the November ballot.

Friday’s votes in the Legislature were anti-climactic given all of the turmoil surrounding the legalization campaign in recent months.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol collected roughly 100,000 petition signatures in its effort to qualify for the ballot. But Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap invalidated nearly half of those signatures for various reasons, including inconsistencies between the notary signatures on file in his office and those on petition sheets.

The campaign appealed and, earlier in April, a state court ordered the Secretary of State’s Office to review the signatures again. On Wednesday, Dunlap certified 11,305 signatures that had previously been invalidated after petition circulators submitted affidavits swearing under oath that they signed their petitions in front of a notary.

As a result, the campaign had amassed more than the 61,123 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

If approved by voters this November, Maine would join four states – Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon – plus the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana for recreational use by adults. Voters in Maine’s largest city, Portland, as

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Maine To Vote on Marijuana Legalization in November

April 29th, 2016

After significant controversy regarding the validity of signatures in a petition drive, officials announced on Wednesday that the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol had garnered enough signatures to place the initiative on the ballot this November. If the ballot initiative passes, Maine would become the sixth state (following Oregon, Colorado, Washington, and Alaska) to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

State officials announced Wednesday that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine has officially qualified for the November ballot.

After a court-ordered review of petitions it had previously invalidated, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office determined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted more than the 61,123 signatures that were needed to qualify.

Several Maine communities have already decriminalized marijuana. A recent poll of the state showed a majority, 54 percent, of people are in favor of legalizing marijuana outright. Medical marijuana has been legal in Maine for about five years and is used to treat a variety of conditions.

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“High” Street, indeed

April 29th, 2016

Ellsworth City Councilor Gary Fortier made an astute point during the April 18 discussion about allowing the city’s sole medical marijuana dispensary to relocate from a low-profile, edge-of-town location to a high-profile intersection in town.

At issue was the request of Maine Organic Therapy, now tucked away off the Bucksport Road, for a zoning change that would allow the dispensary to relocate to the former Global Beverage Warehouse at the corner of High and Myrick streets.

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Maine Organic Therapy’s product, medical marijuana, is a legal and, according to many authorities, effective source of relief for individuals undergoing chemotherapy or dealing with AIDS/HIV or chronic pain.

Ellsworth City Planner Michele Gagnon rightly notes that this is a legitimate business and ought to be accorded the municipal consideration that any other business would deserve. Fortier did not challenge that notion but he did remind his fellow councilors that, come November, Maine voters could approve a ballot measure likely to come before them legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. If that became the case, Fortier said, a medical marijuana dispensary might very well become a recreational use retail outlet. Any effort to ban such sales would be, he said, “like trying to stop Hannaford from selling butter.”

Though still legal, is this the business Ellsworth wishes to present to the millions of visitors who travel

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Court removes hurdle to review of Maine marijuana petitions

April 29th, 2016

Posted Apr. 27, 2016 at 12:43 PM
Updated Apr 27, 2016 at 5:26 PM

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Propane heater possible cause in Benton barn fire

April 28th, 2016

A fire that gutted a barn housing a licensed marijuana growing operation Tuesday on Clinton Avenue in Benton appears to have started in the area of a propane heater, according to a state fire official.

Inspectors from the Maine Fuel Board’s propane division are expected to review the scene Friday, Sgt. Ken Grimes, of the state fire marshal’s office, said Thursday.

Jeremy Damren, right, speaks with another investigator from the state fire marshal's office Wednesday while determining the cause of a fire that destroyed a barn housing a licensed medical marijuana growing operation Tuesday. Behind Damren are Fairfield Fire Chief Duane Bickford, left, and property owner Doug Dixon.Jeremy Damren, right, speaks with another investigator from the state fire marshal's office Wednesday while determining the cause of a fire that destroyed a barn housing a licensed medical marijuana growing operation Tuesday. Behind Damren are Fairfield Fire Chief Duane Bickford, left, and property owner Doug Dixon.


“We are done with the scene exam; however, we have some more work that we’re going to be doing away from the scene,” Grimes said. “The fire does originate in a garage area — of a heater.” He said inspectors from the propane division will “come up and take a look at that and they’re going to have to do some research on it and get back with us.”

Grimes said sometimes the fire marshal’s office uses other agencies and

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Car wreck leads police to pot farm, AK-47 in Bangor

April 28th, 2016


Authorities stumbled onto a pot-growing operation in the Slate Belt on Tuesday after police were called to a car wreck.

Mark A. Becht faces 70 weapons and drug charges after police said they found more than 60 marijuana plants, fertilizer, a water filtration system, packaged marijuana and an AK-47 inside Becht’s Bangor home in the first block of Market Street. Police said they seized more than 6 pounds of marijuana.

Bangor police were called to 18 Market St. just before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday for reports of a vehicle striking a building. Police said the crash damaged the front wall of 16 Market St. While speaking with Becht, police detected a “strong odor” of marijuana coming from the building, according to court records.

Police asked the 39-year-old for permission to search the building. When he denied the request, a Bangor police K9 unit searched the outside of the building, allegedly detecting drugs at 14, 16 and 18 ½ Market St.

Search warrant in hand, members of the Bangor, Portland and Washington Township police departments and the Northampton County Drug Task Force began searching the building just after 9:30 p.m.

A search of 16 Market St. turned up 62 marijuana plants, 32 mason jars and two large jars

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