US ME: Editorial: Crusading Against Marijuana URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n239/a11.html Newshawk: Sledhead Pubdate: Fri, 09 Feb 2001 Source: Lewiston Sun Journal (ME) Copyright: 2001 Lewiston Sun Journal Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, Maine 04243-4400 Fax: (207) 777-3436 Website: http://www.sunjournal.com/ CRUSADING AGAINST MARIJUANA This is admittedly an idea that takes some getting used to. For decades, police have crusaded against marijuana. Everything from infra-red cameras to helicopters has been used to locate illegal crops. Swat-team tactics have been used to raid indoor and outdoor growers. Now the state of Maine is being called upon to grow and distribute the stuff. What's up with that! While jarring at first, the idea is the natural offshoot of the medical marijuana law passed last year by Maine voters. It allows people who have specific illnesses and a doctor's prescription to grow and possess small quantities of marijuana. The problem with last year's successful referendum campaign was clear from the start: These are sick people. Many of them have progressive diseases like cancer or AIDS that eventually make them incapable of growing or processing the marijuana. In several instances, sick people have been arrested for stocking up on marijuana knowing that they would one day be unable to raise any more. If we are serious about allowing these people to use marijuana, we must provide a practical and legal way for them to obtain it. Last October, a state taskforce appointed to look into the problem endorsed a solution: state-sanctioned distribution. Now a draft of a bill has surfaced in the Legislature that would provide for a pilot cultivation and distribution center in one county. The center would grow marijuana in a controlled setting, process the plants and charge patients just enough to cover its costs. The county would maintain a registry of eligible patients. After a period, the Legislature would receive a report on the pilot program and decide whether it should be expanded to the entire state. One curious provision of the bill would prohibit the center from buying marijuana from outside the state. The state should not close the door on the possibility that an out-of-state source may one day be the cheapest alternative for high-quality medicinal marijuana. Until we solve the problem of supply, access to medicinal marijuana will remain beyond the reach of many of the people who might benefit. This bill deserves serious consideration.