Maine’s Medical Marijuana Law – Part 2
In Part 1 I showed you some of the issues that have arisen with the medical marijuana law passed in Maine in 2009.Folks at the Department of Health and Human Services aren’t the only ones butting heads with caregivers and patients. Up until two years ago, when it came to marijuana, the job of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency was pretty cut and dry. That’s not the case anymore and caregivers and patients are also feeling the affects during this learning process. Jon Steward is a caregiver & patient who has legally taken part in the medical marijuana program since it’s inception. “You know the old adage, you’re only paranoid when there’s not someone watching you? They were watching us for six months,” Steward says of the MDEA.According to a court affidavit, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency in October of 2010, acting on anonymous tips and after months of surveillance, conducted a surprise raid on Jon Steward’s home. The agents say they didn’t know at the time Steward, who also sells vegetables, eggs and has a fish farm, was a medical marijuana caregiver. “We have a highway sign that clearly states we’re a business and instead of treating me like a business man and politely asking me some questions, they put my family under surveillance, served a search warrant, had numerous officers through my home, through my daughters dresser drawers,” Steward says recalling that October day. “They handcuffed me and questioned me for an hour because I grew a plant I made no secret of.”Roy Mckinney is the Director of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and says that at the time of the raid they had no idea Jon Steward was acting legally as a caregiver in the medical marijuana program. “All the facts known to law enforcement at the time would have been in the affidavit,” Mckinney said. “You have to remember, we’re speaking to October 2010. There was no registry. caregivers were not required to register with the state at that time. the system had not been in place.” Steward’s wife, Cynthia Rosen, says the MDEA set up a potentially deadly encounter. “He was in the greenhouse and if he went outside to go see what the commotion was, what would have happened? Would they have shot him? That part bothers me,” Rosen says. “He could have grabbed a gun and gone out back to see why someone is on our property what’s our dog barking at. So they set up a potentially lethal situation based on what? An alleged anonymous letter.”Mckinney says his agents did everything right. “I think the important thing is that any homeowner who believes there is someone on their property, they need to call the police. Not investigate such an instance by themselves,” he says.Steward says the MDEA regional office also told him he could be charged with a federal crime for having his gun in his greenhouse. “The Constitution of the State of Maine, Article 1 Section 17, the right of the people to bear arms shall never be questioned. That’s pretty clear. I should be able to defend my greenhouse.”Mckinney agrees saying that as long as the marijuana is legal and the person is allowed by law to have a gun, they’re not breaking the law. “Well if it’s not contraband under the provisions of the law, then the weapon is not contraband or evidence of criminal conduct in the defense of that drug because the law is looking at that as exempted conduct therefore the weapon is not subject to seizure.” Rosen and Steward are in the process of filing a formal complaint and have tried filing trespassing and theft charges against the MDEA agents. Rosen says she wants to make sure this sort of thing does not happen to anyone else. “So I’m waiting,” Rosen says. “I’m being very patient. And I’m not exactly sure what I’m waiting for at this point. Except to make sure I have all my ducks in a row. Because I’m not taking this lying down. They spied on my family for 6 1/2 months.”Mckinney says in the future, the state registry system will help authorities. “From a law enforcement perspective, law enforcement doesn’t want to be spending time on issues it does not need to spend time on. If it’s not criminal conduct, we’d rather know that sooner rather than later.”Steward says he remains cautious. “Yes, I believe that they treat us as criminals. I believe they’re set in their dogma that we are a danger to the community. And we’re not.” The question has also arisen about whether or not Maine’s medical marijuana law actually violates federal law. I spoke with the Attorney General’s office about this and they’re looking into it. We’ll keep you posted as this all gets ironed out.