8 Districts To Handle Medical Marijuana
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8 Districts To Handle Medical Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on April 07, 2010 at 18:49:49 PT
By Kevin Miller, BDN Staff
Source: Bangor Daily News
Augusta, Maine -- The Legislature gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that authorizes up to eight medical marijuana dispensaries in Maine and creates a state-run registry system for patients and caregivers who legally possess the drug.The bill, LD 1811, implements the ballot initiative approved by nearly 60 percent of voters last November expanding Maine’s medical marijuana law. The bill now goes to Gov. John Baldacci, who is expected to sign the measure into law.
The bill establishes a new, regulated system for approved patients to acquire the drug by allowing one nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary in each of the state’s eight public health districts during the first year. Until the dispensaries are established, there is no system for approved patients to acquire marijuana, thereby forcing many to buy on the illegal drug market.The Department of Health and Human Services will adopt rules for the dispensary application and selection process, including setting license fees of up to $15,000 a year. License fees and other fees will allow DHHS to cover the oversight costs of the new system. After the first year under the new law, DHHS will re-evaluate the program to determine whether more dispensaries are needed.The legislation does not, however, prohibit local governments from adopting their own regulations controlling where dispensaries can set up shop within town boundaries. Several towns throughout Maine already have adopted ordinances or moratoriums on dispensaries in anticipation of the new law.Dan Walker, an attorney who represented the sponsors of last November’s medical marijuana ballot question, said Wednesday evening that numerous issues still will be have to be worked out during the rule-making process. But Walker was optimistic it will be a “healthy process.”“From where we were to where we are now, this is a huge step,” Walker said.Under the legislation, DHHS also will create a patient and caregiver registry system with ID cards that can be presented to law enforcement or others as proof that they are using medical marijuana upon the recommendation of their physician.That mandatory registration system has been criticized by the Maine Civil Liberties Union, however, as a possible violation of doctor-patient privacy. Under law, patients stopped by law enforcement for pot possession can avoid charges by producing a letter from their physician attesting to their patient’s use of the drug.“Given that medical marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, it is understandable that some Maine patients may not want to register in the state’s database,” Zachary Heiden, legal director of the MCLU, said in a statement. “The Legislature has taken a step backward by forcing patients to expose their doctor’s recommendation and treatment plan.”Both the House and Senate voted Monday to pass the bill, but final enactment of the legislation was delayed several days while lawmakers worked out a way to pay for the new DHHS system before the department begins collecting licensing fees.During Monday’s debate, some lawmakers said they believed the bill could open the door to potential problems for communities where dispensaries are located as well as law enforcement agencies.Rep. Sarah Lewin, R-Eliot, said she does not believe many voters understood the scope of the changes proposed by the ballot initiative, which she regards as a step toward legalizing marijuana. While she voted in support of the bill in committee, Lewin said she could not support a measure she believes contains too many gaping holes.“Frankly, under the guise of medical marijuana, I find it abhorrent that this thing was passed,” Lewin said.Others cautioned their colleagues against tinkering too much with a measure that received strong support at the polls and that expands a law, the Maine Medical Marijuana Act, that has been on the books for more than a decade.“We are talking about the Maine Medical Marijuana Act, not about legalizing marijuana,” said Rep. Mark Eves, D-North Berwick.Baldacci spokesman David Farmer said Wednesday evening that the governor is expected to sign the bill.Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)Author: Kevin Miller, BDN StaffPublished: April 8, 2010Copyright: 2010 Bangor Daily News Inc.Website: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #4 posted by runruff on April 08, 2010 at 08:15:56 PT
The poll show.....
The stupid people want to end tyranny and have their rights and privliges left to hell alone by meddling freakazoids such as yurself!What kind of argument is this woman offering in a state where the vast majority of citizens want full legalization? Even towns and principalities are moving ahead with legalization while numbskulls like this one debate whether or not mmj is going too far!This country will change or become even more fractured.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on April 08, 2010 at 07:11:00 PT
Time Warp
I do not understand how any politician can be so behind the times. They think like people from the 1950s. 
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on April 08, 2010 at 07:07:36 PT
Those pols that think the voters are stupid.
They will lose their next election for sure if they say what they really think in the simplest of terms, so they wrap up their electorate disagreeing with them with, "Oh they just didn't understand what they were voting for. (Poor ignorant things! Maybe I can correct their mistake by somehow changing or annulling what they so ignorantly voted for.)" Poppycock! Get a clue, Lewin... and all the others that think the voters just "didn't understand" when they voted for these new laws. It's politicians like Lewin that "Don't understand".
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Comment #1 posted by Cheebs1 on April 08, 2010 at 02:47:06 PT:
Same Old BS
I find it funny every time a politician says something like this, Rep. Sarah Lewin, R-Eliot, said she does not believe many voters understood the scope of the changes proposed by the ballot initiative, which she regards as a step toward legalizing marijuana. Why is that the people can read an initiative and vote one one and every one understands it? Why is that if an initiative that a politician doesn't agree with passes then the voters must not have been able to understand it. I think the voters had no problem in understanding it. I think the politicians have a hard time comprehending it because some of their PAC money and kickbacks depend on them not understanding it and then lying to people in hopes of getting it changed. If a politician doesn't understand something as simple as medical marijuana maybe they shouldn't have the job they do.
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