By "Radical" Russ Belville
(Bangor Daily News) AUGUSTA, MA — The effort to expand access to marijuana in Maine for both medical use and by the general population will continue with two new petitions being circulated by Maine Vocals.
The proposed medical marijuana law would:
-- Make identification cards for medical marijuana users optional, which is a change from the current requirement that users have them. According to Christen, that requirement is an infringement on privacy rights that is causing people to opt out of legally using medical marijuana.
-- Make marijuana legal for anyone with a “condition for which marijuana may provide relief” without a prescription from a physician.
-- Increase the amount of marijuana a patient or provider can have from six plants and 2.5 usable ounces in the current law to 12 plants and 3 usable pounds of marijuana in the proposed law.
-- Require the state to establish marijuana dispensaries in every county and each municipality with a population of more than 25,000 residents.
-- Require the state to “establish an education campaign to inform the public on the medical uses of marijuana.”
-- Provide additional protection for doctors and patients.
The only thing I fear in this petition is that it repeals the current Maine medical marijuana law and replaces it with something that requires the state to establish dispensaries. There is a huge difference between allowing dispensaries and requiring the state to regulate them and requiring the state to establish dispensaries. In the latter case, depending on how it is written, the petition could be forcing the state into positive conflict with federal law, which places the petition in danger of being tossed out by the courts should it pass.
Still, ubiquitous dispensaries, a dozen plants, three pounds of medicine, voluntary ID cards, and California-style “for any condition” recommendations would make Maine’s medical law the most relaxed in the country by far.
In a separate petition, Maine Vocals proposes a law that would end the prohibition on marijuana outright in Maine for people 19 years of age or older. It would also clear peoples’ criminal records of all marijuana offenses.
“We’re going to try to do something that’s never been done before,” said Christen. “It’s time for total legalization.”
With the lax standard proposed for medical marijuana, it would darn near be legal anyway, so it’s nice to see the legalization petition goes the extra step in removing criminal records for marijuana.