Monday, August 6, 2012

Sunday Globe Special: High on Maine's Economy

I forgot what I was going to type.... 

"Maine a case study in medical marijuana; Legal access viewed as a plus, and also with some alarm" by Jenifer B. McKim  |  Globe Staff, August 05, 2012

MONTVILLE, Maine — Glenn W. Martin said he used to secretly grow marijuana plants among the deciduous and evergreen trees on his family farm, selling the illegal products in Boston and New York to help cover escalating property taxes and other expenses.

Now Martin, 34, cultivates the herb openly in a small greenhouse by his home. He is part of an expanding industry of farmers and other entrepreneurs seeking to profit from a Maine law that allows patients — with a doctor’s approval — to buy marijuana from small growers and nonprofit centers, as well as to cultivate their own.

“I’m focusing on how to make a high-quality product,’’ said Martin. He has also built a 7,000-square-foot barn to produce what he calls a “medicinal mix” of nutrient-rich compost to help marijuana plants flourish. “It’s one of the best things to happen in our area,’’ Martin said of the law, which until two years ago permitted use of the drug, but did not provide options for patients to obtain it legally.

Maine is one of 17 US states, including four in New England, that allow qualified patients with serious illnesses such as cancer to use marijuana to treat nausea and other conditions. State laws vary on how much cannabis a patient can possess and how they can legally obtain the drug.

A medical marijuana initiative — different in some ways from from Maine’s law — will be on Massachusetts ballots in November. It would allow up to 35 state-regulated, nonprofit centers to grow and sell marijuana to registered patients. 

We voted to decriminalize, so....

Related: Massachusetts Justice Rejects Medical Marijuana

When you get right down to it the only liberal thing about Massachusetts is the same-sex marriage thing.

Maine, which first approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes in 1999, has the most developed program in New England.

There are about 780 registered growers, called “caregivers,” and eight shops, known as dispensaries, that cultivate and sell marijuana. The are about 2,700 people in the state’s patient registry. Participation in the registry is voluntary, which some say opens the system to abuse.

The Maine program is still being fine-tuned — regulations about growing marijuana outdoors are under consideration — but the state official in charge of the program said the law has helped reduce patient suffering while boosting a cottage industry of farmers and shops.

“It seems to be working,” said John Thiele, manager of Maine’s program. “It has not caused the downfall of Maine’s society.”

While marijuana is illegal under federal law, the US Department of Justice has said it does not target patients or caregivers who comply with state regulations governing medicinal use. 

Something stinks! 

See: Obama Administration Goes to Pot

I don't know what they are smoking over there at the Globe, but.... (cough).

But law enforcement officials and some health care professionals worry the law is being abused in Maine, which already struggles with an epidemic of prescription drug abuse.  

Yeah, the legal pharmaceuticals are the wor$t of all.

They say that since mandatory patient registration was repealed last year, there is no way to know how many people are getting marijuana through the program or growing it at home.

“Substance abuse is a huge issue in Maine and marijuana is right in the middle of that thing,’’ said Roy McKinney, director of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, part of the Department of Public Safety. “Now we don’t even know who the patients are.”  

Government doesn't like it because they can't sniff around as easily.


The changes have turned underground businesses into legitimate, tax-paying operations, and created much-needed jobs, advocates say. Small farmers are growing marijuana in greenhouses and elaborate indoor facilities, equipped with bright lights and fans, and Maine’s dispensaries have hundreds of regular customers.

The outlets sell marijuana in various forms — as an herb to be smoked, or in lozenges and baked goods. The $250 to $375 price per ounce is not covered by health insurance.

“This is a chance for people to stay in Maine,” said Paul McCarrier, legislative liaison for Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, an Augusta organization that represents caregivers. “People are saying, ‘I can have a job here. I can pay for the fuel in my truck.’”

There is little data to show whether legalization of medical marijuana actually boosts local economies. But Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron said his studies on marijuana decriminalization indicate governments may save modestly by reducing law enforcement efforts and gain revenues from taxes on income and sales.

“People who have been growing marijuana are still going to keep doing it, but now they will be officially counted as employed,’’ Miron said.

Caregivers must collect a 5 percent sales tax on the marijuana they sell and also pay income tax on their earnings. It is too soon to determine how much revenue has been generated for the state, Thiele said.   

Only the drug war police state and the health and chemical lobbie$ are preventing the sweet leaf from flourishing.

Martin is investing money in the marijuana business, part of a long-term effort to finance a lifestyle once supported by lumber sales. Marijuana sales still account for only about 15 percent of his family income — the rest comes from wood cutting and raising animals — but the extra money makes a big difference, he said.

Martin prides himself on living off his 500-acre farm, called Hogback Mountain. He and his wife are raising three children who do not expect a lamp to turn on with a switch or a toilet to flush.

The family lives in a small house where a hose provides the only running water, a kerosene lamp offers light, and the stove is fueled by wood.

“It’s a struggle,” he said of making a go of it in Maine.  

Someone hear a banjo playing?

McCarrier said a caregiver such as himself can launch a business with only a few thousand dollars. He said he earns about $600 a week growing marijuana at his home in Stockton Springs. He is also a patient, he said, but would not disclose his medical condition.

“It’s a way of life up here,’’ he said about growing marijuana. Now, McCarrier said, “You no longer have to be a pot dealer in hiding.”

In nearby Washington, Jake McClure, 33, runs a consulting business for marijuana entrepreneurs. He also has rigged his farmhouse to be a self-contained farm, growing plants in a former in-law apartment as well as an enclosed back room, using a complex set of high-intensity lights, fans, dehumidifiers and air conditioners.

McClure expects to earn about $65,000 after expenses this year between his two marijuana-related businesses. It’s a decent income for a guy without a college degree, he said.

“There’s just a humongous explosion of money and economic development going on here,’’ he said. “We have people who are making comfortable livings now, and they are used to being on welfare.”


Becky Dekeuster, executive director of the nonprofit Portland-based Wellness Connection of Maine, which runs four of the dispensaries, said marijuana helps seriously ill people fight pain, stimulate appetite, and reduce nausea. As a bonus, she said, dispensaries also have put people to work.

“The job market is tough. These are jobs at good wages with good benefits and the added benefit of the ability to do what’s right for people who are sick,’’ Dekeuster said....

Opponents of the Massachusetts initiative, including the nonprofit physicians’ organization, the Massachusetts Medical Society, say there is not enough scientific research to show marijuana use is safe and effective.  

I'm tired of doctors dragging their feet because of their backer$.

Heidi Heilman, president of the Massachusetts Prevention Alliance, an Acton group opposing the ballot question, called it a “ploy” to allow “pot shops.”

“This would increase widespread use and abuse in Massachusetts,” she said. “It’s another industry like tobacco and alcohol that hook their consumers early.” 

Well, you know, considering all the violence and everything maybe it is time to end prohibition and legalize. 

Related: Sunday Globe Special: The New York Times Smokes Opium

Oh, now I $ee why we have a never-ending drug war.

In Maine, however, medical marijuana initiatives have won the support of voters on two occasions. Thiele said Maine’s experience stands out because federal law enforcement officials haven’t swooped in to raid dispensaries, which has happened in California and other states.

Tight state regulations, a limited number of dispensaries, and a Yankee culture that frowns upon pot smoking in public have given medical marijuana a relatively low profile in Maine, according to Thiele, the program’s manager.

“So far, knock on wood, we haven’t had the type of inflammatory conflict that would draw the feds to the state,’’ he said.

So when is the doped-up on weed false flag scheduled?


Related: The ‘medical marijuana’ sham 

So where are you getting your weed from, readers?

You smell something?

"Number of pot plants eradicated drops nationwide" Associated Press, August 04, 2012

SEATTLE — Federal data show he number of live marijuana plants eradicated in outdoor and indoor grow operations has dropped in most states over the past three years, while the amount of bulk processed marijuana seized has doubled in that time.

And authorities can’t pinpoint exact reasons.

One thing is known: California, which provides the lion’s share of the millions of plants eradicated every year in the United States, saw a 46.5 percent drop in plants eradicated between 2010 and 2011, bringing down the nation’s overall numbers....

Shifts in tactics from growers, weather patterns, and budget cuts to local and state enforcement agencies have played roles in the significant decrease in eradication, DEA and local officials said....



"Well-organized Mexican cartels have also moved to increasingly cultivate marijuana on public lands in the United States, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center and local authorities." 

The weather outside is frightful, but the harvest is so delightful; there's no particular place to go, so let it grow, let it grow, let it grow (sing to the tune of Let It Snow).

I don't know what it is but I'm hungry now. Good thing it's lunchtime.