Drug Policy

The Maine Chance for Medical Marijuana


Yesterday Maine voters, by a margin of 59 percent to 41 percent, approved Question 5, a ballot initiative that expands the conditions covered by the state's medical marijuana law and establishes a system of state-licensed dispensaries. Maine has allowed medical use of marijuana since 1999. But as in California, the right to grow and possess marijuana was restricted to patients and their "caregivers." Under the new law, nonprofit organizations regulated by the state Department of Health and Human Services will be allowed to operate storefront dispensaries that sell marijuana to patients with doctor's recommendations. While California has many such pot shops, ostensibly operating as patient "collectives" or "cooperatives," their legal status is matter of dispute. Maine now becomes the third state, after Rhode Island and New Mexico, to explicitly authorize a distribution system for medical marijuana. Ten other states, including California, have laws that allow medical use of the plant but are silent or hazy on the question of where patients can get it. As I noted in my column a couple of weeks ago, this lack of clarity means DEA raids on medical marijuana dispensaries may continue despite the Justice Department's avowed intent to avoid prosecution of patients and suppliers who comply with state law.

"It's great to see Maine leapfrog other states in adopting cutting-edge medical marijuana legislation," says Jill Harris, managing director of public policy at the Drug Policy Alliance, which backed Question 5.  "What's especially nice is that the medical marijuana guidelines recently issued by the U.S. Department of Justice provide reassurance to Maine officials that they can implement the new law without fear of reprisal by federal authorities."

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  1. What does it matter what laws states enact if federal law enforcement is free to ignore them?

  2. Colin,

    For at least the (hopefully brief) tenure of the Obama administration, federal agents won’t invade states where marijuana providers are in compliance with state law.

  3. It sets up a 9th amendment battle.

    Anyone read the recent article in Scientific American about pain research? They point out that marijuana contains multiple chemicals that inhibit the cells that cause tolerance in morphine users.

  4. Your managing director of public policy appears to be a simpering ditz.

  5. Me and my bro’s have the first legal medical crack dispensary, come see us and relieve you pains man!

  6. Let Tricomes be Tricomes

  7. where do the people who appose the use of marijuane get there info? I have been a pot smoker for 35years, raised 2 terrific kids and work my ass off to support them. I got caught cultivativating in Aug of 09 and was told I couldnt smoke as part of my release.Besides being treated like a criminal I did stop smoking.I have had ne withdrawls and am not climbing the walls to want to smoke. The point is it is not addicting and there are no chemicals added to marijuana. I guess as long as you can get a script for oxycottons and its legal it makes it ok. Lets also research and see how many domestic abuse cases there are when on marijuana as opposed to licquor which of course is legal as well. Get your stories straight before judging something that your god created and the chineese have been using for pain for centuries

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