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sara
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 2:53 pm    Post subject: ]Initiative seeks new medical pot law Reply with quote

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Initiative seeks new medical pot law
Saturday, June 24, 2006 - Bangor Daily News << Back

MADISON - By early March 2008, tens of thousands of Maine people who suffer from
debilitating diseases and chronic pain could find relief in a county marijuana store
- a pharmacy that would supply pot to patients who can document that their
conditions warrant self-medication, a marijuana advocate said Friday.

"Many, many Maine people don't smoke pot for a good time; they smoke to relieve pain
and suffering," Don Christen of Madison said Friday.

Christen launched a petition drive on Friday to get a marijuana initiative on the
November 2007 ballot. The petition will require 51,000 valid signatures to be turned
into the secretary of state by January 25, 2007, to be on the ballot that fall.

According to an eight-year-old study by the Maine Task Force on Substance Abuse,
95,000 Maine adults routinely use marijuana. Christen, leader of Maine's
legalization of marijuana movement, said that figure is underestimated and that a
large percentage of those users are patients seeking relief.

Christen, 52, has lobbied for pot for decades. He has been arrested for cultivation,
possession and distribution and is awaiting trial in Somerset County for providing
pot to five people suffering from debilitating diseases under Maine's Medical
Marijuana Initiative, passed in November 1999.

Maine is one of 11 states that permits the medical use of marijuana, including
Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont
and Washington.

But the law passed by Maine citizens is flawed, Christen maintained.

"The problem is there is no provision for a distribution system," he said Friday.
"When people voted in 1999, they thought they were getting a plan that would work
and they didn't."

The new initiative not only sets up such a system, it also would require the state
to offer educational leaflets, provide protection for doctors and providers that
prescribe marijuana to their patients, and, for the first time, set a final
definition of marijuana for the state.

The initiative would allow up to 6 pounds per patient per year, an amount set by the
federal government that allows 1 gram jpints for its marijuana patients.

"That's 5.7 pounds per year," Christen said. "A patient would use six to seven
jpints a day, depending on their illness."

Christen said many sick people don't use the existing program because they are scared.

"The potential for abuse is minimal, compared to the benefit for patients," he said.
"What we are talking about is helping sick people get pot and keeping them away from
the black market and its exorbitant prices."

Since Maine already has decriminalized marijuana, Christen maintained that the state
has the right to establish a distribution system. By setting up nonprofit outlets
that would stock marijuana grown by authorized providers, insurance companies could
be required to pay for the herbal medication. The proposal is to have stores called
"buyers clubs" in all cities with more than 25,000 people and one in each county.

Christen said the initiative has built-in protection for prescribing doctors. "That
has to turn some heads," he said.

"This initiative will be the model for the country," Christen predicted. "We used
math and science to find out what people needed. There is nothing like this. This
will be a Maine law, for Maine citizens."

Anyone who wants to volunteer to circulate petitions can contact Christen at
696-8167 or check www.mainevocals.net.



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