Maine

Connecticut, Maine: New Laws Permit Medical Marijuana In Hospitals

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New laws in Connecticut and Maine allow the use of medical marijuana formulations by patients who are hospitalized.

This week, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed legislation, HB 5450, to protect nurses who administer medical marijuana to qualified patients in hospitals from any civil, criminal, or disciplinary action. Other provisions in the bill would expand access to medical marijuana to those under the age of 18 and seek to establish a state-sponsored research program.

Maine's Governor Paul LePage signed LD 426 into law recently which also protects hospital administrators and staff from civil or criminal liability if they permit qualified to use non-inhaled forms of medical marijuana in hospitals. The patients would not necessarily be provided or administered medical marijuana under the law, but could receive marijuana products from a third party.

Connecticut and Maine are the first states to specifically provide immunity to hospitals that permit patients to use medical marijuana.

Maine: Legalization Initiative Would Force Merchants To Hide Marijuana Magazines

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maine's Marijuana Legalization Act, which has qualified for November's ballot and is being sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), would require merchants to keep marijuana magazines behind the counter if their stores are open to customers younger than 21.

An almost identical provision which was part of a bill passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2013 was so blatantly unconstitutional that Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said the state wouldn't enforce it, reports Jacob Sullum at Reason.com.

Yet, just three years later, MPP is asking Maine voters to approve the same restriction as the price they must pay for the state's "legalization" initiative.

The Marijuana Legalization Act which will be on the Maine ballot in November says "a magazine whose primary focus is marijuana or marijuana businesses may be sold only in a retail marijuana store or behind the counter in an establishment where persons under 21 years of age are present."

Maine: Marijuana Legalization Initiative Makes This Year's Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Maine voters will get the chance to vote to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use this November, state officials announced Wednesday. Below is a press release from the campaign:

AUGUSTA, Maine — 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.

Last month, the secretary of state informed the campaign that the initiative had been disqualified because only 51,543 valid signatures had been submitted. The campaign filed a lawsuit challenging the decision, and a Kennebec County Superior Court judge ruled in their favor earlier this month after learning state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions —which included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks — without actually reviewing every petition in question. The petition was then remanded to the Secretary of State’s Office to review all of the disputed petitions and determine whether enough valid signatures were collected.

Maine: Marijuana Initiative Qualifies For November Ballot; Poll Shows Solid Support

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Maine state officials on Wednesday announced 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.

Last month, the secretary of state informed the campaign that the initiative had been disqualified because only 51,543 valid signatures had been submitted. The campaign filed a lawsuit challenging the decision, and a Kennebec County Superior Court judge ruled in their favor earlier this month after learning state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions —which included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks — without actually reviewing every petition in question.

The petition was then remanded to the Secretary of State’s Office to review all of the disputed petitions and determine whether enough valid signatures were collected.

Maine: 3 Sentenced In $9M Marijuana-growing Operation

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Three men convicted of a marijuana-growing operation that produced one of the biggest marijuana seizures in Maine history were sentenced Thursday.

A judge in the U.S. District Court in Bangor imposed sentences of more than 14 years for Malcolm French, 54, of Enfield, and more than 12 years for Rodney Russell, 52, of South Thomaston for charges including manufacturing drugs and housing workers who were in the country illegally. Kendall Chase, 59, of Bradford, was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiracy.

"This was a truly remarkable operation," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey, who described it as the largest marijuana-growing operation to be successfully prosecuted in Maine. The three men were convicted by a federal jury in January 2014.

The marijuana operation was hidden in the woods and bogs in rural Washington County at the nation's eastern tip. Drug agents found nearly 3,000 plants, some as tall as 8 feet, along with 40 pounds of processed marijuana, all valued at $9 million.

Special Agent Jonathan Richards of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency said he'd never seen anything like it in his 37-year career in law enforcement.

Maine: State Could Be The First To OK Medical Marijuana To Treat Addiction

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Maine could become the first state to add addiction to its list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

A Public hearing was held on Tuesday where nearly 30 medical marijuana caregivers and patients told state regulators that marijuana eases the symptoms of opiod withdrawal and that it is a healthier alternative to prescription painkillers the can be addictive.

Joseph Legendre, 50, of Mount Vernon, fought back tears as he spoke about the pain he endured after hurting his back 26 years ago at a construction site and how marijuana finally eased that pain.

Britney Lashier, 23, of Saco, said smoking marijuana helped her break a heroin addiction she picked up in Morocco while studying in college.

"Marijuana saved my life for sure," she said.

Some other states with fewer restrictions on medical marijuana, such as California and Massachusetts. have seen instances where it has been prescribed for opiod addiction. But, according to the Maine Medical Association, Maine would be the first to specifically add opiate addiction as a qualifying condition.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Serves held the hearing in response to a petition from a caregiver. The department now has 180 days to respond.

Maine: Court Rules In Favor Of Marijuana Legalization Supporters, Orders Review Of Signatures

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A Kennebec County Superior Court judge on Friday ruled that state officials may have improperly invalidated thousands of signatures of registered Maine voters and unlawfully denied citizens their constitutional right to vote on a proposed ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Justice Michaela Murphy found that state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions —which included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks — without actually reviewing every petition in question. The Secretary of State’s Office must now review all of the disputed petitions and place the initiative on the November ballot if it determines enough valid signatures were collected.

On March 2, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap informed the campaign that its proposed initiative did not qualify for the November ballot. With 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters required, state officials determined that initiative backers submitted 51,543 valid signatures.

In a document explaining his determination, the secretary of state said his office invalidated more than 5,000 petitions, which included more than 26,000 total petition signatures, solely due to its finding that the signature of a single notary did not “match” the signature the state has on file.

On March 10, supporters of the initiative filed a lawsuit challenging the decision.

Maine: Senate Approves OUI Bill

Maine Senate approves OUI bill.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Maine Senate voted 19 to 14 Wednesday to approve a bill that established a blood level limit for drivers impaired by marijuana use.

The vote followed a lengthy debate. Supporters argued that setting a blood limit is necessary to help police officers charge impaired drivers with operating under the influence. Opponents say the limit will ensnare unimpaired drivers because no established level has been settled on nationally.

Several medical marijuana spoke out against the bill, saying that residual THC levels in the blood could violate the standard.

The bill, L.D. 1628, now goes before the Maine House of Representatives.

Maine has a medical marijuana law. Voters in the state could have the chance in November to legalize recreational marijuana, if a Supreme Court justice decides enough valid signatures collected to qualify it on the ballot.

The Maine bill sought to impose a 5 nanogram limit, the same as in Colorado and Washington.

Maine: Police Department's Post About Misplaced Marijuana Goes Viral

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

"If you've lost a baggie of marijuana at the Rite Aid store, please give us a call. We would like to speak with you."

This brief statement, which the Madawaska Police Department posted on its Facebook page on Sunday, hasn't led to anyone coming forward, but it had been Liked more than 1.3 million times, generated 756 shares, and triggered a storm of comments.

With no other evidence, there hasn't been any further police investigation, according to Office Jamie Pelletier, who was on duty at the time, reports Tory Jones Bonenfant at the Fiddlehead Focus.

When employees opened the Madawaska Rite Aid pharmacy on Sunday, March 20, they found a small baggie near the cash register and entryway. It contained a couple of marijuana buds.

The department claimed it posted the information to "raise awareness," but also to shed some police-style "humor" on the situation.

The Facebook post stirred up a discussion about drug use, parenting, legal growing and medicinal use, current federal laws, community drug awareness, and police priorities and resources.

Even if no charges arise from the incident, Madawaska Police Chief Carroll Theriault said, it is still good that people are discussing drug use in the community.

Maine: Lawmakers Reject Marijuana OUI Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Maine rejected a bill attempting to establish a blood level limit for drivers impaired by marijuana.

The Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 7-4 Thursday to reject the bill, expressing concerns that setting a legal limit for THC would not be an accurate measure of impairment because people are affected differently and it remains in the blood long after its psychoactive effects have disappeared.

The debate reflects discussions occurring in other states implementing legalized medical or recreational marijuana. Maine already has medical marijuana; a bid to legalize recreational use could be on the ballot this November, pending a Superior Court judge decision on whether enough valid signatures were submitted by supporters.

The committee vote was the second on proposal L.D. 1628, which was brought back in an amended version after a defeat on Tuesday with a vote of 8-5. Several lawmakers made it clear they couldn't support it.

Rep. James Davitt, D-Hampden, said, "We’re trying to make a scientific determination and none of us on this committee is equipped to do that. We can’t do it.”

17 states have laws making it illegal to have certain levels of THC in the bloodstream while operating a vehicle, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Several of those states have set the amount between 1 to 5 nanograms per milliliter. L.D. 1628 sought to impose a 5 nanogram limit – the same limit in place in Colorado and Washington, where recreational marijuana use is legal.

Maine: Marijuana Initiative Supporters File Lawsuit Challenging Ballot Disqualification

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Backers of an initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Maine filed a lawsuit in Kennebec County Superior Court on Thursday challenging the Secretary of State’s decision to disqualify the measure from the November ballot.

According to the suit, which is now available online at http://bit.ly/1pzNhVO, state officials improperly invalidated thousands of signatures of registered Maine voters and unlawfully denied citizens their constitutional right to vote on the measure.

Campaign leader David Boyer and attorney Scott Anderson announced the details of the suit at a news conference in the office of Portland law firm Verrill Dana. Anderson is representing a group of Maine voters who signed the petition in support of the initiative, including Boyer, State Sen. Eric Brakey, and State Rep. Diane Russell, among others.

Last week, the Secretary of State’s Office announced that the proposed initiative did not qualify for the November ballot. With 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters required, state officials determined that initiative backers submitted 51,543 valid signatures.

In a document explaining their determination, state officials said they invalidated more than 5,000 petitions, which included more than 26,000 total petition signatures, solely due to their finding that the signature of a notary did not “match” the signature the state has on file. It appears more than 17,000 signatures were otherwise valid signatures of registered Maine voters.

Maine: Marijuana Legalization Initiative Backers File Lawsuit Challenging Disqualification

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Backers of an initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Maine will file a lawsuit in Kennebec County Superior Court on Thursday that challenges the Secretary of State’s decision to disqualify the measure from the November ballot.

Campaign leader David Boyer and attorney Scott Anderson will announce the details of the suit at a news conference at 1 p.m. ET Thursday in the office of Portland law firm Verrill Dana (One Portland Square, 9th Floor). Anderson is representing a group of Maine voters who signed the petition in support of the initiative, including Boyer, State Sen. Eric Brakey, and State Rep. Diane Russell.

Last week, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office announced that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine did not qualify for the November ballot. While 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters were required, state officials determined that initiative backers submitted 51,543 valid signatures.

It appears that more than 17,000 valid signatures of registered Maine voters were not included in the count because the signature of an individual notary did not match the signature the state has on file for that notary.

WHAT: News conference to discuss lawsuit challenging the Maine Secretary of State’s decision to disqualify the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol

WHEN: Thursday, March 10, 1 p.m. ET

WHERE: Office of law firm Verrill Dana, 9th Floor, One Portland Square, Portland

WHO: Scott Anderson, partner, Verrill Dana
David Boyer, CRMLA campaign manager

Maine: Marijuana Initiative Backers Respond To Determination That Measure Didn't Qualify

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has responded to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office, which announced Wednesday that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine did not qualify for the November ballot.

At least 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters were required, and state officials determined that the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted 51,543 valid signatures.

Based on a document the Secretary of State’s Office provided to the campaign, it appears that more than 17,000 valid signatures of registered Maine voters were not included in the count because the signature of an individual notary did not match the signature the state has on file for that notary. The notary’s commission is current, according to state records.

“We are very disappointed by the Secretary of State’s determination," reads a prepared statement from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. "Based on documents they have provided, it appears that more than 17,000 valid signatures from registered Maine voters were excluded from the count because the signature of a single notary — whose notary commission has not expired — did not exactly match the signature the state has on file for that notary.

"We are exploring all legal means available to appeal this determination, and we sincerely hope that 17,000-plus Maine citizens will not be disenfranchised due to a handwriting technicality,” the statement reads.

Maine: Marijiana Legalization Initiative Fails to Qualify For Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Although considered likely to be one of the next states to legalize marijuana, Maine may not get the chance this year because not enough valid signatures were collected for the initiative.

The Maine Secretary of State Office announced today, March 2, that marijuana reform advocates were unsuccessful in collecting the required number of valid voter signatures to qualify the initiative for the upcoming ballot in November. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) turned in 99,929 signatures last month, but officials validated only 51,543 of those signatures, about 51 percent of the total. 61,123 valid signatures were needed to qualify.

The measure would have permitted adults 21 and over to possess up to two and a half ounces of marijuana and grow up to six flowering plants and twelve immature plants. A ten percent tax would be imposed on retail sales by the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, who would regulate the cannabis industry. Cities and towns would have the right to ban marijuana businesses.

“It appears that more than 17,000 valid signatures from registered Maine voters were excluded from the count because the signature of a single notary — whose notary commission has not expired — did not exactly match the signature the state has on file for that notary,” the CRMLA said in a statement. “We are exploring all legal means available to appeal this determination, and we sincerely hope that 17,000-plus Maine citizens will not be disenfranchised due to a handwriting technicality.”

Maine: Voters Oppose Punitive Drug Policies, Support Decriminalization

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Findings Come as Legislature Considers Bills Increasing Penalties for Drug Possession

Results Similar to Poll in New Hampshire Which Also Fund Majority Support for Drug Decriminalization

A substantial majority of Maine voters support decriminalizing drug possession, according to a survey conducted over the weekend by Public Policy Polling (PPP) for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Sixty-four percent of voters in Maine think people caught with a small amount of illegal drugs for personal use should be evaluated for drug issues, offered treatment but not be arrested or face any jail time. Seventy-one percent say substantially reducing incarceration is somewhat or very important to them.

The poll results come as the legislature considers legislation backed by the Attorney General that could roll back groundbreaking reforms passed last session that reduced drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. The proposed legislation (LD 1554) would make possession of 30 milligrams (often less than one single pill) or more of prescription opioids and any amount of certain other drugs into felony offenses, continuing the criminalization of drug users and wasting scarce resources on incarceration instead of treatment and prevention.

Maine: Considering Legislation Increasing Drug Penalties, Escalating Drug War

EndTheDrugWarNow[TheFreeThoughtProject]

Advocates Say Increasing Penalties Will Frighten People Away from Seeking Treatment, Increase Incarceration, and Exacerbate Racial Disparities and the “New Jim Crow”

The Maine Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday held a hearing on legislation backed by the Attorney General that could roll back groundbreaking reforms passed last session that reduced drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor.

The proposed legislation (LD 1554) would make possession of 30 milligrams (often less than one single pill) or more of prescription opioids and any amount of certain other drugs into felony offenses, continuing the criminalization of drug users and wasting scarce resources on incarceration instead of treatment and prevention.

Under this proposed bill, users not engaged in any other type of illegal conduct would face mandatory felony prosecution for possessing even minuscule amounts of certain substances.

“Addiction should be treated by healthcare professionals rather than the criminal justice system and, as a taxpayer and citizen of Maine, I would prefer our tax dollars go to prevention, treatment, and recovery, rather than mounting costly felony prosecutions against the users actively facing addiction,” said Chris Poulos, a person in long term recovery who overcame addiction and federal incarceration to attend law school and work on criminal justice policy reform at the local, state, and federal levels.

Maine: Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Submits Petition Signatures

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Monday submitted its petitions to state officials in support of a ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine.

The campaign collected 103,115 total signatures and needs at least 61,123 valid signatures of registered Maine voters to qualify for the November ballot. Voters from over 400 Maine towns signed the petition.

State Rep. Diane Russell joined the campaign for a news conference in front of the campaign’s headquarters in Falmouth (183 U.S. Route 1). Campaign leaders and volunteers then loaded boxes of petitions onto a truck and delivered them to the Maine Secretary of State in Augusta.

“Over the past eight months, we've talked to more than 100,000 voters across the state, from Kittery to Caribou,” said campaign manager David Boyer. “Most Mainers agree it is time to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition, and they will have the opportunity to do it this November.”

The proposed initiative would allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow a limited number of marijuana plants in their homes. It would also establish the framework for a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, product-manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities, and it would create rules governing the cultivation, testing, transportation, and sale of marijuana.

The initiative would enact a 10 percent tax on marijuana sales.

Maine: Cultivating Hemp for Fiber, Food, Fuel, Moving Forward

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By Michael Bachara, Hemp News

Because of hemp's value as a cash crop, states such as Maine have turned to hemp to help farmers prosper. The state is one of the most recent to join the nationwide effort to research hemp farming, which gained momentum when the federal government eased restrictions with the 2014 Farm Bill.

In 2015, after Gov. LePage vetoed LD 4, an act to promote industrial hemp, state lawmakers showed their support for the bill by overriding his veto. The House voted for the bill 135-6, with 10 members absent. The Senate approved it 28-6.

In 2015, Jon Olson of the Maine Farm Bureau testified in front of the state's legislative committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, that his organization opposed the federal ban on hemp farming and saying of the state's farmers: "This could be a value-added crop that could help them," he testified.

John Jemison, an agricultural specialist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, is among several researchers in New England investigating hemp as a crop that could be grown for everything from fishing ropes to insulation and seeds rich in nutrients and protein.

“It has the potential to be a really good rotation crop,” Jemison told farmers at the Maine Potato Conference this month at the Caribou Inn and Convention Center.

Hemp and marijuana are varieties of the cannabis plant, which has “been domesticated about as long as we’ve had agriculture,” according to Jemison.

Maine: Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol to Submit Signatures Monday

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Monday will submit its petition to state officials in support of a ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine.

The campaign collected more than 100,000 total signatures and needs at least 61,123 valid signatures of registered Maine voters to qualify for the November ballot.

State Rep. Diane Russell will join the campaign for a news conference at 10 a.m. ET on Monday in front of the campaign’s headquarters in Falmouth (183 U.S. Route 1).

Campaign leaders and volunteers will then load boxes of petitions onto a truck and deliver them to the Maine Secretary of State in Augusta (111 Sewall St.) at approximately 12 p.m. ET.

“Over the past six months, we’ve talked to tens of thousands of voters from all over the state,” said campaign manager David Boyer. “Most Mainers agree it is time to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition, and they will have the opportunity to do it this November.”

WHAT: News conference and submission of petitions in support of the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Maine

WHEN: Monday, February 1, news conference at 10 a.m. ET; petitions will be delivered to the Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions at approximately 12 p.m. ET

WHERE: News conference at CRMLA headquarters, 183 U.S. Route 1 (around back of the building), Falmouth; petitions will then be delivered to the Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions, Burton Cross Building, 111 Sewall St., 4th Floor, Augusta

Maine: School Board Allows Students Medical Marijuana On School Property

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The school board in Auburn, Maine, this week voted to allow students to be administered medical marijuana while on school property.

Maine voters legalized medicinal cannabis back in 1999, reports Crystal Haynes at Fox 25.

Effective immediately, students in Pre-K through high school who are authorized to use medical marijuana can be administered cannabis on school property by a parent or caregiver. The policy prohibits smoking, most most children who are authorized to use cannabis use edible extracts or tinctures.

Auoburn Superintendent Katy Grondin said school districts must make sure medical marijuana doesn't interfere with education. "It's what the doctor and the family decides is in the best interest of the child," she said. "We're not getting involved in it medically."

Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) said laws that allow access to medical marijuana while in school are about providing kids with the medicine they need to be able to attend at all. "These kids, just because they're sick, shouldn't have their education interrupted," he said.

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