Two Medical Marijuana Petitions Underway in Maine
Mainers for Medical Rights (MMR), and a local coalition led by Maine Vocals, began separate petition drives to place a medical marijuana initiative on the 1998 general election ballot in Maine. Mainers for Medical Rights is the state branch of Americans for Medical Rights (AMR). AMR is promoting similar legislation in other states (Associated Press, "Pot Petitioners Compete for Maine Voters," Boston Globe, December 30, 1997).
MMR's proposal would allow the use of medical marijuana only for limited conditions, including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, cancer and AIDS. MMR says its proposal is the more moderate of the two and has a better chance of attracting voters. The MMR initiative limits the quantity of marijuana a patient can possess to less than two ounces and six plants. David Fratello, a national spokesman for AMR, said his group's initiative in Maine is being backed by the Maine AIDS Alliance, the Maine Civil Liberties Union and state Rep. J. Elizabeth Mitchell, (D-Portland). The MMR initiative began in early December.
The Maine Vocals' version is broader and would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana "for any illness for which marijuana can provide relief." The bill does not specify a limit on the supply or crop of marijuana for medical purposes. Maine Vocals' founder, Don Christen, says the MMR proposal is part of a national agenda that does not reflect Maine's needs. "By passing legislation in as many states as possible, AMR hopes to pass federal legislation," Christen says. Christen said Maine Citizens for Medical Marijuana, Maine Cannabis Alliance, Maine Green Party and other groups have expressed concern that the AMR proposal will confuse Maine voters.
Mainers for Medical Rights - Stephanie Hart, Tel: (207) 547-5031.
Maine Vocals - P.O. Box 189, Anson, ME 04911-0189, Tel: (207) 696-8167.