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Saturday, October 17, 2009

WCSH6.com | Portland, ME | In The Arena: Question 5 - Medical Marijuana

WCSH6.com | Portland, ME | In The Arena: Question 5 - Medical Marijuana

(NEWS CENTER) -- Question 5 on the statewide ballot is the medical marijuana initiative. It reads, "Do you want to change the medical marijuana law to allow treatment of more medical conditions and to create a regulated system of distribution?"

Joining NEWS CENTER's Pat Callaghan In The Arena are Jonathan Leavitt of the Maine Marijuana Policy Initiative, and Somerset County District Attorney Rvert Fowle, president of the Maine Prosecutors Association.


Some local supporters of marijuana reform are opposed to the bill.

The measure has drawn fire from one unexpected direction: the Maine Vocals, a group of longtime marijuana and medical marijuana legalization activists. The Vocals and its offshoot, Maine Citizens for Medical Marijuana, have announced they oppose the initiative.

"I favor what we have now and working to make it better," said Maine Vocals founder Don Christen. "But this isn't the way. They're just instilling the government into this program, and the government doesn't want it to work," he said.


I can understand that.

Consider these comments left and remember it for when you decide to back a bill in MA.

people should realize that Jonathan probably had no control or input into the language for this referendum (MPP wrote it before they abandoned this project and DPA rescued it).

I like to see dispensaries added, but I wonder why the national movement does not simply do Prop 215 again, especially in New England where it would pass easily. Most dispensaries opened in California because of the incentive for profit. Allowing only non-profits with a cumbersome, expensive regulatory process will ultimately mean less choice and less access for patients.

It's the multitude of easily-accessed dispensaries that drives the patients to the doctors for recommendations. That demand results in cannabis-specialty physician practices, where it's easy to get a recommendation. Also the "optional" DPH registry card is not very optional if you can't get into dispensaries without it.

I think any rational person would agree that California is by far the best state for a truly seriously ill person for medical cannabis. The key elements of Prop. 215 that made it this way were:

- initially allowing for-profit dispensaries NOT managed by the govt.
- no special fees for dispensaries other than sales tax like any other business
- no statewide cap on the number of dispensaries
- doctor's recommendation is the only thing a patients needs, no registry, no annual fees to the state

This is the difference between a medical cannabis state like Vermont, with only 350 people being protected, to California and Colorado, with hundreds of thousands of patients. In the New England states people generally don't go to jail for small-time cannabis offenses, an annual patient fee of $150 would be enough to deter many patients from even bothering. And one has to question the wisdom of putting DPH in charge in a state where the elected officials are very hostile to this issue.

Why does this referendum and the 2010 one in Arizona kowtow to law enforcement and government bureaucrats, when we KNOW a wide-open Prop 215 would pass by a large margin in each state? Both states voted for MedMJ in a landslide 10 years ago, surely the margin of victory has only grown since then.

I think the tight regulations and fees are fine if you're working with a state legislature (like RI). They have no place in a referendum in a friendly state. We all see what's happening, prohibition has collapsed in California. Wasn't that supposed to be our goal? It also happens to be the best way to serve legitimate patients.

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