MCLU Urges Lewiston City Council to Reject Onerous Restrictions on Medical Marijuana Caregivers

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
December 7, 2010 12:00 am

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Lewiston — The MCLU urges the Lewiston City Council to vote no to new restrictions on medical marijuana caregivers this evening. The Council is set to take a final vote on a proposal, directed at caregivers who grow medication for 2 or more patients. The new restrictions would severely limit the zones in which medical marijuana caregivers could cultivate plants and would subject these caregivers to municipal registration, fees, high-tech security systems, additional licensing, and background checks.

“Maine has permitted the lawful cultivation of medical marijuana by caregivers for over 10 years without creating problems,” said Alysia Melnick, Public Policy Counsel for the Maine Civil Liberties Union. “Caregivers should not be pushed out of their homes in order to help their loved ones obtain legal medication.”

Since medical marijuana was first legalized in Maine, patients have been able to grow for themselves, or designate a caregiver to grow for them. The recent change in the law creates dispensaries as an additional option for patients and permits reasonable municipal regulation of the dispensaries. The new medical marijuana law does not grant municipalities the right to restrict patients and caregivers.

The MCLU letter, submitted to Lewiston city councilors, warns them that the proposed restrictions go too far and are not permitted under Maine’s statewide medical marijuana law.

“The MCLU believes that these restrictions are both terrible public policy and go beyond the legally permissible bounds of municipal regulation,” wrote Alysia Melnick in the MCLU Letter to Lewiston City Councilors.

Lewiston voters approved the statewide medical marijuana law, expanding access to patients through the creation of dispensaries by a vote of 7171 in favor to 5213 opposed.

“Lewiston’s proposed ordinance contradicts the will of the people and the actions of the legislature, both of which voted last year overwhelmingly to increase access for Maine patients,” said MCLU Executive Director Shenna Bellows.

The MCLU remains concerned that the move to set up dispensaries and an appropriate regulatory scheme surrounding dispensaries has had an unintended consequence of creating barriers to individual patient access to medical marijuana. Both patients and caregivers are now required to register with the state under amendments passed by the legislature last spring. Many patients and caregivers fear reprisal from federal authorities or other negative consequences to disclosing their medical marijuana use to state or municipal authorities. The MCLU is supporting a variety of grassroots efforts and will be supporting legislation to fix the medical marijuana law to bring it back in line with the will of Maine voters.

The letter to the Lewiston City Council can be found at:

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