Sunday, April 8, 2007

Bill to enhance Maine Medimari law

Sen. Ethan Strimling (D-Portland) has introduced a bill to strengthen the state's medical marijuana law.


Strimling's bill would order the state Department of Health and Human Services to create a registry of nonprofit corporations that could dispense marijuana to people who have permission to use it.

The bill would increase the amount of marijuana a user can legally possess from 2.5 ounces of harvested plant and six plants to 2.5 ounces and 12 plants. It would allow nurse practitioners, not just doctors, to authorize marijuana use for medicinal purposes.

"We need to do what we can do" at the state level, Strimling said. Although Maine voters passed the law eight years ago, he said, "we have yet to figure out a system to get people their medication."

The proposal would direct the state to issue identification cards to eligible patients and permit marijuana use for diseases that are not covered by the current law, including Crohn's disease and Alzheimer's disease.

The bill would prohibit any Maine police officer from helping federal agents investigate, arrest or prosecute anyone holding a valid state marijuana card, unless the case involves a violation of state law. Any police officer who violates that ban would be suspended or fired, according to the bill.

"The law that's in place right now in Maine for medical marijuana is not acceptable," said Jonathan Leavitt of the Maine Marijuana Policy Initiative, which supports legalizing marijuana and strengthening the medicinal law.

"Without dispensaries being set up, it's not a real option," he said of the current law.

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