Surprising Foe Comes Out Against Legal Marijuana in Maine | NECN
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Surprising Foe Comes Out Against Legal Marijuana in Maine

Medical marijuana growers say statewide legalization could hurt their patients, Maine's economy

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Many of the state's medical marijuana growers say statewide legalization could be a bad move for their patients and the economy. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014)

    It's likely that three more Maine communities - South Portland, Lewiston, and York - will vote on ordinances that would make it legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana this November, but a surprising foe has emerged in the current debate over legalization.

    Many of the state's medical marijuana growers say statewide legalization could be a bad move for their patients and the economy.

    Glenn Lewis is one of 1,500 licensed medical marijuana growers in Maine. It's how he and his wife Catherine earn a modest living.

    "My wife and I are both caregivers. We have 10 patients between the two of us," Lewis said, standing next to dozens of plants at different stages of growth.

    The group leading the charge to legalize it for recreational use in Maine, the Marijuana Policy Project, says those patients would benefit by making the substance more widely available.

    "Access to medical marijuana in Colorado is better than it's ever been," David Boyer, MPP's Maine Director, said. "If it was legal here for all adults., you'd see better access to medical marijuana, better quality, and medicine that’s more affordable."

    But the state's medical marijuana trade group, Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, does not like what it sees it Colorado or Washington, where it's now legal.

    "If MPP goes forward, mark my words: It will have a negative impact on patients in this state," Paul McCarrier, the group's legislative liaison, said. "Patients will be herded into the recreational market and it will be mass produced. They won't have caregivers tailoring strains one-on-one with patients."

    McCarrier says he worries that small farmers could be forced out by big commercial growers and that sick patients may not able to afford their medicine. But MPP's Boyer says that is not their intention.

    "When we sit down to write this state wide inititaive we invite the caregivers to the table," said Boyer. "We want their input."

    McCarrier says most medical growers and their patients are wary of what they call MPP's "boiler plate" plan.

    "We want a law by Mainers, for Mainers that keeps the money here," said McCarrier.

    So just because both groups see the benefits of marijuana, doesn't mean they're on the same page, making it that more confusing for Maine voters as they try to decide who should have legal access to this-once taboo plant. 

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