News Release

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September 28, 2000

Maine Medical Marijuana Task Force Recommends State Distribution Center

        Augusta, ME:  The Maine Attorney General's Task Force on Medical Marijuana submitted its final report Wednesday, outlining three proposals to further implement the state's medical marijuana law which was approved by voters last year.  The report will now go to the Maine Legislature's Joint Standing Committees on Health and Human Services and Criminal Justice.
        Proposal one called for a research program to study the medical benefits of cannabinoids found in marijuana.  Proposal two called for establishing a medical marijuana patient registry and to allow registered patients to furnish marijuana to one other registered patient.  The final proposal called for establishing a state marijuana distribution center.
        Sixteen of the 29 members of the task force supported the state-run distribution center, including the Maine Chiefs of Police Association and the Maine Sheriffs' Association.
        Mark Westrum, the sheriff of Sagadahoc County and president of the sheriffs' association, said he and his association "are keenly aware that our position doesn't sit well with the commissioner of public safety or the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, but we represent a large constituency ourselves, and we are in touch with the people of our counties."
        Elizabeth Beane, director of Mainers for Medical Rights, the organization which sponsored the 1999 state medical marijuana initiative said the group supports establishing state marijuana distribution center.
        For more information, please contact Mainers For Medical Rights at (207)780-0704.

Supreme Court To Decide On Thermal Imaging Devices

        Washington, DC:  The U.S. Supreme Court decided this week to hear arguments this January on the issue of whether thermal imaging devices used to measure the amount of heat emanating from a house is a legal search requiring a search warrant.  Thermal imaging devices are frequently used by law enforcement to detect indoor marijuana grow operations.
        The Court will use an Oregon case in which federal agents and the Oregon National Guard, used a thermal imaging device on the home of Danny Kyllo.  The equipment detected an unusual amount of heat emanating from the garage roof and a wall of the house.  The agents then obtained a search warrant and found Kyllo's marijuana plants.
        Kyllo moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the search of his residence, arguing that the thermal imaging device was an unconstitutional search.  The federal district 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the use of the thermal imaging device did not constitute a search because "intimate details" had not been revealed.
        "The question for the American people is: Do we want federal agents - of whatever ilk - using technical gizmos without a search warrant to snoop into the most private and intimate aspects of citizens' daily lives in the privacy of their own homes?" asked Jeff Orchard, Esq., NORML Foundation Litigation Director.  "If this is allowed to stand the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure will have been further narrowed, in the name of the war on drugs."
        For more information, please contact Jeff Orchard, Esq., NORML Foundation Litigation Director at (202) 483-8751.

Public Policy Question Supporting Marijuana Decriminalization To Appear On Essex County, MA Ballot

        Georgetown, MA:  A public policy question will appear on the ballot this November that would instruct the state legislator representing the Fourth Essex Representative District (Essex County, MA) to introduce and support a bill calling for the decriminalization of marijuana.
        The voter question, drafted by MASS/CANN NORML founder Steven Epstein, Esq., states, "Shall the representative of this district be instructed to introduce and vote for legislation that would make possession of marijuana a civil violation, like a traffic ticket instead of a criminal offense, and requiring the police to hold a person under 18 cited for possession until released to a parent or legal guardian, or brought before a judge."
        In 1997, the last year for which there is published data, police arrested over 11,000 marijuana users in Massachusetts, including over 1,000 in Essex County, for simple marijuana possession.
        "People in this district know that the current system creates criminals of their children and loved ones, rather than fighting crime," Epstein said.  "Based upon how quickly the gathering of voters' signatures was accomplished and the enthusiastic reception received while gathering them in every town in the district, I am very confident this question will pass."
        Similar decriminalization public policy questions will appear on The Second Middlesex Senatorial District and the Sixth Middlesex Representative District.  A medical marijuana question will appear on the Fourth Barnstable Representative District ballot.
        For more information, please contact Steven Epstein, Esq., at (978) 685-9696 or visit

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