Thursday, June 24, 2010

Press Herald

http://www.pressherald.com/news/skaters-quarter-pipe-dream-coming-true_2010-06-24.html


Skaters' quarter-pipe dream coming true

A city committee gives final approval for the design of a skate park at Dougherty Field in Portland.

By Tom Bell tbell@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Work crews will begin construction late this summer on a $250,000 skate park at Dougherty Field, which will give bikers and skaters something they haven't had since a half-pipe was removed from a city lot on Marginal Way five years ago -- a place of their own.

click image to enlarge
This rendering shows a skate park planned for Dougherty Field in Portland. The design is suitable for all skill levels of skateboarders and bikers, the builder says.
Courtesy Hardcore Shotcore Skateparks Inc.

Jeff Woodbury/Staff Graphic Artist
Select images available for purchase in the
Maine Today Photo Store
A city committee gave final approval Monday for the design of the skate park, which will be built by Hardcore Shotcrete Skateparks Inc.

The park will have a "crop circles" design, chosen in an online poll of skateboarders. The layout will resemble the formations that occasionally pop up in wheat fields.

Construction was scheduled to begin this spring but was delayed to give the Skatepark Planning Committee time to work on design issues with Hardcore Shotcrete, which won in competitive bidding to design and build the park.

The company offered suggestions for improving the design, and the committee worked to include the changes while keeping the original crop circle concept.

The additional time was well-spent, said City Councilor David Marshall, who chairs the committee. "Ultimately, the park will be a better product," he said.

Rocco Didonato, 17, a recent Portland High School graduate who served on the committee, said the new design provides a better "flow," a term that skaters and bikers use to describe the transition between features.

"This is the best design I've seen," said DiDonato, who rides a BMX bike. "It has the most flow. It will be the best for both skaters and bikers."

The main skate park plaza incorporates street elements, such as stairs, ledges and rails, along with more fluid terrain, such as embankments, rollers and quarter-pipes, said Mark Leone, vice president of design for Hardcore Shotcrete Skateparks.

The design is suitable for all skill levels, he said.

Although the new park will not have a half-pipe, that's not big issue because people will be able to use the half-pipe in the skate park in Westbrook, Didonato said.

Portland's new park is expected to take six weeks to build. No date has been set for the start of construction, but work is expected to begin before the end of summer.

The city contributed $150,000 to the project, plus the land, which is valued at $75,000. The remaining $100,000 was raised from private contributions including:

• $50,000 from the Ollie Fund of the Maine Community Foundation

• $25,000 from the Quimby Family Foundation

• $10,000 from the In-Body Calm Foundation

• $5,775 from MENSK

• $1,200 from students of South Portland High School

• $400 from a fundraiser at Flatbread Co.

• $220 from Hall School fifth-graders.

A pathway to the entrance of the park and surrounding the perimeter will be made of bricks purchased through the "Buy A Brick" program. Residents, businesses and supporters of the skate park have purchased bricks for $50 each.

For more information on how to buy a brick, go to: www.portlandmaine.gov/skatepark.htm.



Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

tbell@pressherald.com
Portland Daily Sun



http://www.portlanddailysun.me/cgi/story2.pl?storyid=20100622055231000447

Greens gain cred in dispensary effort


You have to hand it to Portland City Attorney Gary Wood. It's not part of his job description to build consensus among the often raucous councilors or convince residents to participate in municipal policy decisions, yet he managed to accomplish those goals with his recent suggestion for a six-month moratorium on marijuana dispensaries.

Granted, it was in opposition to his proposal ... but still.

To be fair at the risk of abandoning consistency, even city councilors who were most in opposition to Wood's proposal offered near-praise, or at least olive branches, for the poor guy. Other communities have more or less agreed with his assessment and approved similar measures, and he was pretty much honor-bound to bring it up.

He was, well, doing his job.

As the dust settled and the city's marijuana activists exhaled a sigh of relief, The Green Party was noting its role in defeating the moratorium. In a press release, they noted that "The Green Party is claiming victory today over a moratorium that would have prohibited the siting of any medical marijuana dispensaries in Portland for six months and possibly longer. Thankfully, the council ended up defeating the moratorium unanimously and then adopting a proposal by Green City Councilor David Marshall to open up Portland’s downtown district to future dispensaries."

Hey, the Green Party pushing a pro-marijuana agenda is naturally greeted with the shock! shock! usually reserved for discovering gambling in Casablanca nightclubs. But this effort comes in the context of a general push to energize the party through the Summer of Politics.

And why not? Politically relevance can be hard to come by locally, what with multiple rallies every week, ranging from veteran anti-war activists dating back to Vietnam to the latest public affairs effort with "rally" on their deliverables checklist. The Green Party has a built-in credibility; the satellite TV trucks and headlines proved it.

When a group doth perhaps protest too much for an issue supported by 75 percent of voters (in Portland) and clearly headed to victory, something else is up. There's always the chance that they're following that old political strategy that says "find a parade, get in front, pretend to lead." But remember that The Greens helped form this particular parade, working hard to get Question 5, the marijuana dispensary law, passed. Say what you want, but they are not new to this issue.

The new Green Party Chairman, John Elder, offered some perspective “It’s a victory for common sense but it’s a pale victory. We never should have had to fight it. Almost 75% of Portlanders voted in favor of the dispensaries and six months later sick and dying people are still waiting to buy their medicine legally as the law provides."

What's most likely here is that the Green Party, having only recently installed Elder, has done some math. They are strongly associated with an issue that 75 percent of voters in the city, and a healthy majority statewide, agree with. Yet "traditional politicans" are going to shy away, fearing they might ruffle feathers in that elusive "center."

This is political branding at its best.

So you can add "helped energized a political party!" to the city attorney's accomplishments. Although, again, not his likely goal.

(Curtis Robinson is editor of The Portland Daily Sun. Contact him at curtis@portlanddailysun.me.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Press Herald


http://www.pressherald.com/news/temporary-ban-on-medical-marijuana-dispensary-rejected_2010-06-22.html


Portland rejects temporary ban on medical marijuana dispensary

City councilors reject a moratorium after critics say a delay would be inhumane.

By John Richardson jrichardson@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – The City Council voted Monday to open the city's downtown to a medical marijuana dispensary without delay.

Demonstrators opposing a proposed moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in Portland march down Congress Street to Portland City Hall on Monday. Critics urged councilors not to stand in the way of helping patients who need access to the drug.

Portland City Councilor David Marshall speaks at a rally Monday to oppose an effort to place a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in Portland. "Patients want this now," Marshall said in urging other councilors to reject the temporary ban. The council voted 9-0 against the moratorium.

"Patients want this now," said Councilor David Marshall, who urged other members to reject a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

The city's attorney had recommended the temporary ban to give officials time to write new zoning and operating rules. His proposal also would have temporarily banned some small-scale cultivation and use of medical marijuana that has been legal in Maine for 11 years.

The council voted 9-0 to reject the moratorium after a public hearing in which advocates and patients said it would keep needed medication away from suffering, seriously ill people. No one spoke in favor of a moratorium.

"It was a good, strong showing of support from the council," said Ben Chipman, who led the referendum campaign last fall to legalize nonprofit dispensaries for patients who have cancer, HIV and a list of other illnesses. Since 1999, patients and caregivers have had to grow their own marijuana. "We've been waiting 10 years to really have access for patients," Chipman said.

Critics of the moratorium, who staged a small rally in Congress Square before the meeting, urged councilors not to stand in the way of helping patients who need access to the drug.

Chris Kenoyer of Portland told councilors that he has a spinal cord disease that doctors can't cure, and marijuana is the way he manages the pain. "There is nothing they can do for me except make me a pill junkie. No thank you," he said. "We want the dispensary here in Portland."

Bob Hobbs of Raymond said he wants to be able to buy marijuana to control his daily pain.

"Let me tell you that it is hell, and to delay this relief for those of us who are patients seems to me an inhumane response," Hobbs said. "I hope that I will finally have a period of time where I am free of pain."

Several people pointed out that 75 percent of Portland voters supported the legalization of dispensaries at the polls in November.

John Eder, a former state legislator from Portland, said a moratorium "is completely out of step with the mood in Portland."

City councilors voted against the moratorium with little discussion. "This has always been something that I thought should move forward and I'm just happy to see it," said Councilor Dory Waxman.

After rejecting the moratorium, councilors voted in favor of allowing marijuana dispensaries in three downtown business districts, chosen for their access to public transportation and other medical and social services. The council's recommendation will now go to the Planning Board before coming back for final approval as soon as next month.

Maine's Department of Health and Human Services plans to award operating licenses to Maine's first medical marijuana dispensaries by July 9.

The dispensaries will be spread around the state in eight regions, with one each in Cumberland and York counties. Portland is widely expected to be the home of the state's busiest dispensary.

Dozens of Maine cities and towns adopted temporary moratoriums months ago while setting up zoning and operating guidelines, including Westbrook, South Portland and Biddeford.

Portland's city attorney, Gary Wood, said he proposed the moratorium in Portland to give the city time to consider its own rules. Some councilors thanked Wood for raising the issue of dispensaries, but said they didn't agree that the city needed to add any delays to medical-marijuana access.



Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at: jrichardson@pressherald.com
Portland Daily Sun


http://www.portlanddailysun.me/cgi/story2.pl?storyid=2010062107522371


City nixes pot dispensary moratorium


By Curtis Robinson
Editor
curtis@portlanddailysun.me
The city's marijuana dispensary debate echoed through City Hall last night, achieving a unanimous vote of confidence as councilors voted 9-0 against a six-month moratorium being advocated by the city's attorney.

Next stop: The planning commission.

Green Independent Councilor Dave Marshall led opposition to the moratorium, which had been suggested by the city attorney who cited vague state laws as a potential problem.

Instead, Marshall introduced a plan to clarify city zoning to expressly include the dispensaries.

"We've been waiting seven months for action," Marshall argued against the moratorium. "My hope is that the planning board will get a recommendation out to allow zoning changes by July 17," he said.

Since the 1990s, Mainers suffering from certain conditions have been able to purchase medical marijuana from "caregivers," who are licensed by the state to cultivate the herb for medical use. The law legalized the drug for medical use, but did not allow for any type of distribution system.

Last year, voters returned to the polls and directed the state to form a dispensary system. Maine, already one of 13 states legalizing medical marijuana, became only the third to mandate a dispensary system. About 75 percent of Portland voters supported "Question 5" that created dispensaries.

"We didn't imagine it would take 10 years ... when we passed a law without access," said Charles Wynott from Westbrook, who is a marijuana-growing caregiver as well as a patient.

Under last November's voter directive, Maine's Department of Health and Human Services is scheduled to select the operators of the state's first eight dispensaries by July 9.

The not-for-profit suppliers could open shop within weeks of licensing, depending on how quickly they could grow and process the drug and set up the security and tracking systems required by the state. But some communities, including South Portland, have imposed moratoriums, arguing they need time to create appropriate regulations for the facilities.

The eight dispensaries will be in different regions throughout the state. Cumberland and York counties will be limited to a dispensary each in the program's first year.

While some law enforcement officials and groups have opposed medical marijuana, Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion has emerged as a supporter of dispensing medical marijuana, saying a dispensary system would make his own job easier.

"It's done in the light of day, so a dispensary gives us the opportunity to publicly regulate this," said Dion. "Anything that brings it into the mainstream medical practice will make it easier to regulate," he said.

Dion said there is little evidence that dispensary systems foster criminal behavior, citing California's dispensary system, enacted in 2003 after the passing of Senate Bill 420. "The data from California suggests that the risk of crime outside a dispensary is no greater than what we'd experience at a bank. So I think we should just move forward and exercise the common sense that the voters have demonstrated in repeated votes on this measure," said Dion.
WGME News 13

http://www.wgme.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wgme_vid_4030.shtml


WATCH THE VIDEO

UPDATE: Council rejects moratorium on medical marijuana

UPDATE: The city council voted unanimously to reject a six month moratorium on a medical marijuana dispensary in Portland.
That came after more than a dozen people, including medical marijuana users, spoke up asking to allow a dispensary sooner rather than later.
The patients claim that marijuana is the only thing that eases their pain.
The council also sent a proposal to the planning board suggesting where the dispensary should be located.
It blocked out three different sections of the city that could be rezoned for the dispensary, including downtown, Bayside and certain major streets and avenues, including Washington, Brighton and Forest.
The city's attorney had suggested the city needed a moratorium saying it needed to look at zoning regulations before it approved a location.

This afternoon:
A protest is planned against a proposal that would delay a medical marijuana dispensary to be set up in Portland.
Monday night at 7:00, the city council will take up the six month moratorium on any dispensaries within city limits. An hour before that, a group of medical marijuana supporters plan to march from Congress Square to city hall, to protest against the proposal. People against the plan say the voters have spoken, and it's time to get moving. City councilor Dave Marshal will be marching with them, and has sponsored an order that would overrule the moratorium.
Posted: Monday, June 21 2010, 08:53 AM EDT
WMTW Channel 8 News

http://www.wmtw.com/news/23983767/detail.html


Portland Rejects Dispensary Moratorium

Nonprofits Can Now Apply For Permit

POSTED: 10:01 pm EDT June 21, 2010
UPDATED: 11:42 pm EDT June 21, 2010

WATCH THE VIDEO

PORTLAND, Maine --

The Portland City Council Monday unanimously rejected a proposed 6-month moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.
The decision means that nonprofits can start applying for permits to open a dispensary.
Monday's vote was welcome news to a lot of people.
"This is absolutely what we needed to have," said Chris Kenoyer.
City Attorney Gary Wood proposed the moratorium on caregiving and growing facilities in the city earlier this month to allow Portland more time to review the new state law.
"The purpose and intent of this moratorium," said Wood, "is to take time out and let the planning process move through its recommendation to the council for final action."
Some members of the council spoke in favor of the proposal during Monday's public hearing, but nearly every resident who spoke opposed the plan.
"I think for us to implement a moratorium as implied by Gary Wood would be a significant step backwards and a slap in the face," said Charles Bragdon.
Dan Jenkins agreed with Bragdon. He said "Folks that are currently growing their medicine on their property would be forced to probably cut it down and throw it away. I don't think people should be throwing their medicine away on an ill-advised moratorium."
After voting on the moratorium, city councilors discussed where the dispensary should be allowed, and approved a zoning change to allow a dispensary in the downtown area.
Other areas being considered include parts of outer Congress Street and Forest Avenue
That issue now goes to the City Planning Board. Its recommendations are expected by mid-July.
Copyright 2010 by WMTW. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Press Herald


http://www.pressherald.com/news/Opponents-of-marijuana-moratorium-plan-rally-in-Portland.html

Opponents of marijuana moratorium plan rally in Portland
Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com

PORTLAND — Opponents of a proposed six-month moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in Portland are planning to hold a rally and march Monday night to protest the ban.

The Portland Green Party announced tonight it will host a rally for people who support medical marijuana patients’ rights starting at 6 p.m. in Congress Square - near the Eastland Park Hotel.

Green Party members believe it is wrong to prevent caregivers from providing medicine to patients with chronic illnesses such as cancer and AIDS.

City Councilor Dave Marshall, who opposes the moratorium, will offer an amendment at Monday's City Council meeting that allows dispensaries in downtown Portland. The ban has been proposed by City Attorney Gary Wood.

After the rally, protesters will march down Congress Street – most likely on the sidewalks – before entering City Hall. The council meeting is set to start at 7 p.m.

Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion, Ben Chipman of the Medical Marijuana Campaign, and John Eder of the Portland Green Party are expected to participate.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fox News 23

http://www.myfoxmaine.com/news/96641794.html

Group Protests Proposed Marijuana Dispensary Moratorium
By News 13


Story Created: Jun 18, 2010 at 7:07 AM EDT

Story Updated: Jun 18, 2010 at 7:07 AM EDT

On Thursday morning, a group of medical marijuana advocates called for the rejection of a recently proposed six-month moratorium on opening a marijuana dispensary within city limits.

WATCH THE VIDEO

The group, consisting of Portland city councilor Dave Marshall, Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion, representatives from the Maine Civil Liberties Union, and medical marijuana patients, called for a dispensary to be set up as soon as possible.

Proponents of the moratorium say they're not opposed to a dispensary; they just want to find the right place for one.

A public hearing on the issue will take place on June 21.
Press Herald

http://www.pressherald.com/news/councilor-pans-moratorium-on-medical-pot_2010-06-18.html

Portland city councilor pans moratorium on medical pot
A planned six-month hold on medical marijuana dispensaries 'is wrong,' says David Marshall.

By John Richardson jrichardson@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — A Portland city councilor hopes to derail a proposed six-month moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.
click image to enlarge

Portland City Councilor David Marshall

Staff photo
Select images available for purchase in the
Maine Today Photo Store

David Marshall said Thursday he will introduce a council order at Monday's meeting to allow state-licensed dispensaries in two downtown business zones. There is no need to delay access to the drug for those who need it, he said.

"Cutting off the supply of medication to patients with debilitating illnesses such as AIDS and cancer is wrong," Marshall said during a news conference on the steps of City Hall.

And, if Marshall doesn't prevail, the city could be facing a legal challenge.

Maine Civil Liberties Union Attorney Alysia Melnick said the moratorium would violate state law because it also restricts the kind of informal medical marijuana use that has been legal in Maine for a decade. "This is a time when Portland should be expanding access, not erecting barriers," she said.

The council is scheduled to hold a public hearing Monday on the proposed six-month ban, which is intended to allow time for officials to write local siting and operating rules for a medical marijuana supplier. The proposal is facing strong opposition because it could delay the opening of a dispensary in the state's largest city and busiest public transportation hub.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is expected to grant the state's first-ever licenses to eight regional, not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensaries on July 9.

The Cumberland County dispensary is widely expected to be in Portland because of its population size, existing medical and social services and access to public transportation. Westbrook and South Portland, two other potential host cities, put temporary moratoriums in place months ago and have already been working on zoning guidelines.

Gary Wood, Portland's attorney, said he waited for draft state rules to be posted last month before recommending that councilors take action and create local rules. Those proposed state rules, which are now being finalized, include standards for security, employee background checks and 500-foot setbacks from schools, among other things.

Marshall's zoning proposal would resolve perhaps the biggest local issue surrounding the dispensary -- where it might be located. He wants to add dispensaries to the list of permitted land uses in two peninsula business zones that include the downtown district and the Bayside neighborhood, where much of the city's social services are based.

Three other city councilors -- Dory Waxman, Jill Duson and Kevin Donahue -- have already signed on as cosponsors of the zoning order, he said. If Marshall's zoning proposal passes on Monday, it would go to the Planning Board for review before final enactment by the council, perhaps in mid July.

But support for Marshall's zoning order does not necessarily mean the council will reject a moratorium.

Wood, the city's attorney, said he also supports Marshall's zoning proposal but that the city may still need a moratorium to deal with other potential issues created by the new medical marijuana law.

Wood's draft moratorium, for example, also would apply to the growing and selling of marijuana by some individual caregivers.

Under an 11-year-old state law, patients have been allowed to grow their own marijuana or get it from a caregiver who is permitted to grow marijuana for no more than five people. The new state law allows caregivers to continue supplying marijuana to patients, including those who are too ill to leave home and go to a dispensary.

Wood said the city needs to consider additional rules for caregivers because nothing in state laws or rules would prevent them from banding together and essentially creating unlicensed dispensaries to compete with the licensed ones.

"I think there are some holes in the state law," he said. "I just felt like I had to put this on the table."

The moratorium would not apply to those caregivers who are growing marijuana only for members of their family or household, he said. "I didn't want to unnecessarily disrupt what was existing, because it hasn't created any problems for us," Wood said.

State officials also are discussing how to close the loophole in the law. "What we don't want to see are caregivers getting together and basically creating a non-licensed dispensary," said Kathy Bubar, deputy commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services.

However, Bubar also said Portland does not have legal authority to pass such a broad moratorium. "The statute's clear that towns can regulate dispensaries. But there is nothing in the statute that says that towns can have any effect on caregivers and patients and their ability to grow marijuana," she said.

For Marshall and medical marijuana advocates, the idea that the state may interfere with established caregivers and patients is one more reason to defeat the moratorium.

Charles Whynott, who uses medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of AIDS, said the moratorium could mean he would no longer be allowed to grow marijuana for two elderly, disabled patients in Portland who need the medicine.

"Please do not do this to patients and make it illegal now," Whynott said.



Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

jrichardson@pressherald.com
Portland Daily Sun

http://www.portlanddailysun.me/cgi/story2.pl?storyid=20100617055411000967

Councilor, sheriff back marijuana dispensaries

Joined by medical marijuana advocates including licensed growers, patients and the Cumberland County Sheriff, Portland City Councilor Dave Marshall yesterday introduced his proposal to allow registered marijuana dispensaries in the downtown business zones.

At a City Hall press conference, he said the time was right.

"We've been waiting seven months for action," said Marshall. "My hope is that the planning board will get a recommendation out to allow zoning changes by July 17," he said.

The order is "a proactive way to deal with the zoning issues regarding the only dispensary for Cumberland County," Marshall said in a Wednesday press release.

Marshall's proposed council order is scheduled for discussion at Monday night's city council meeting.

The order comes in response to the City Attorney's proposed six-month moratorium on dispensaries within Portland, and would change zoning laws to allow dispensaries in the downtown business area. Marshall and others at the press conference said the moratorium would not only be another postponement in enacting the law passed by voters in November legalizing such dispensaries, but would also prevent growers from dispensing the drug in Portland, even to those already holding prescriptions.

Under a law passed in 1996, Mainers suffering from certain conditions can purchase the drug from "caregivers," who are licensed by the state to cultivate the herb for medical use. The 1996 law legalized the drug for medical use, but did not allow for any type of distribution system.
Advocates say the state has been dragging its heels in setting up a distribution network, necessitating a networking of caregivers to provide the drug to patients."We didn't imagine it would take ten years in 1996 when we passed a law without access," said Charles Wynott from Westbrook, who is a marijuana-growing caregiver as well as a patient.

"I wish we could get it into a pharmacy. It's all about the patients, and they need secured access in a business type atmosphere," Wynott said.

"We should be expanding, not erecting barriers. Patients lives are at stake," said Alysia Melnick, an attorney with the Maine Civil Liberties Union, at the press conference.

Ben Chipman, the statewide coordinator for last year's Yes on 5 campaign that promoted access, and a former legislative aide, called the proposed moratorium, "one of the most restrictive in the state."

"It's going to disrupt the delivery of medicine that has been going on for eleven years," said Chipman, who hopes that the city council will recognize the potential harm of the moratorium on patients."The council seems progressive, I think they will err on the side of what's right," Chipman said.

Maine's Department of Health and Human Services is scheduled to select the operators of the state's first eight dispensaries by July 9. The not-for-profit suppliers could open shop within weeks of licensing, depending on how quickly they could grow and process the drug and set up the security and tracking systems required by the state, barring any locally imposed moratoriums, like the ones enacted by Brewer and South Portland.

The eight dispensaries will be in different regions throughout the state. Cumberland and York Counties will each have one.

The moratorium was proposed by City Attorney Gary Wood, who cited ambiguities in state rule regarding appropriate sites for medical marijuana cultivation and rules governing primary caregivers. "My job, I thought, was to get the issue in front of the council and they would review it and amend it," said Wood.
"I think they should pass the moratorium, but it's up to them. They may not agree with the concerns that I'm expressing," Wood said.

Marshall's proposed council order is the city councilor's way of trying to allay Wood's apprehension about such ambiguities in state law as they apply to a dispensary here in Portland.

Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion gave some perspective on the issue from a law enforcement point of view, and said a dispensary system would make his own job easier."It's done in the light of day, so dispensary gives us the opportunity to publicly regulate this," said Dion. "Anything that brings it into the mainstream medical practice will make it easier to regulate," he said.

Dion said there is little evidence that dispensary systems foster criminal behavior, citing California's dispensary system, enacted in 2003 after the passing of Senate Bill 420. "The data from California suggests that the risk of crime outside a dispensary is no greater than what we'd experience at a bank. So I think we should just move forward and exercise the common sense that the voters have demonstrated in repeated votes on this measure," said Dion.
Comparing such dispensaries to the ubiquitos corner pharmacy, Dion said "We wouldn't be here today if this was a national pharmacy chain, we never stand back and go, 'CVS, now they are bad,'" Dion said.

"I live on Allen's Corner, where we have a Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid in a few blocks, I don't remember any meeting about that," he said, adding that such pharmacy chains sell perscriptions drugs that can actually be harmful to people in the community, including opiates like Oxycontin.
The downtown business zones are most appropriate for the dispensary due to the advantages of public transit and close proximity to social services, Marshall said at Thursday's press conference. "No other town has better access to public transportation and social services than Portland," he said.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

WGME13


http://www.wgme.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wgme_vid_3986.shtml


WATCH THE VIDEO

Officials call for fast tracking a medical marijuana dispensary in Portland
It's a conflict over medical marijuana in the city of Portland.
Some city officials have recently called for a six month moratorium on opening a dispensary within city limits. But Thursday morning, one city councilor, along with the Maine Civil Liberties Union and Cumberland County sheriff Mark Dion called for the proposed delay to be dropped. At a city hall news conference, they urged the city council to defeat the moratorium and get a dispensary up and running as soon as possible. City councilor Dave Marshall is sponsoring an order that would allow for any dispensary to be set up in the downtown area. Meanwhile, a hearing on the proposed moratorium is scheduled for June 21st.
Posted: Thursday, June 17 2010, 12:41 PM EDT
WCSH6.COM

http://www.wcsh6.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=119124&catid=2

Portland Considers Ban On Marijuana Dispensaries


WATCH THE VIDEO

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A proposed moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in Maine's largest city is drawing more oppostiion.

Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion and the Maine Civil Liberties Union are among those calling on the city to scrap the proposal altogether.

Sheriff Dion, activists, medical marijuana patients and attorneys for MCLU gathered on the front steps of city hall Thursday morning.

They say the moratorium sends a bad message after voters last November approved a statewide referendum that expanded Maine's medical marijuana law. It allows patients with certain conditions to buy marijuana from dispensaries with a doctor's recommendation.

Portland's moratroium no only prohibits dispensaries for six months, it also prevents patients and caregivers from receiving or growing medical marijuana. Sheriff Dion says the council needs to follow the will of the voters.

'Medical marijuana is a public health issue, it's not a law enforcement issue. The data from California suggests that the risk of crime outside a dsipensary is no greater than what we'd experience at a bank.

The city will take up the issue following a public hearing. That is schedueld for seven o'clock Monday night at Portland City Hall.
Maine Public Broadcasting Network

Portland City Council Urged to Reject Pot Dispensary Moratorium

06/17/2010 Reported By: Susan Sharon

Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion joined the Maine Civil Liberties Union and supporters of Maine's medical marijuana law on the steps of Portland City Hall this morning to call on city council members to reject a six-month moratorium on dispensaries. The groups say the proposal also includes a provision that would prohibit caregivers from distributing medical marijuana to patients, something they've been permitted to do for 11 years. That could serve as the basis for a legal challenge if a moratorium is adopted. But passage of the moratorium now appears unlikely.

LISTEN

Maine voters authorized the use of medical marijuana for qualified patients more than a decade ago. Last fall, they also gave their approval for a non-profit dispensary system, and did so in large numbers. Portland residents were some of the most supportive. Portland city councilor Dave Marshall says they endorsed the measure by a margin of 75 percent. And he says they've waited long enough to implement the law without another six-month delay that a proposed moratorium would bring.

"That's why I'm sponsoring an amendment to city code to permit medicinal marijuana dispensaries in Portland's downtown business zones. The city of Portland must respect the patients' rights and the will of the voters," Marshall said at a news conference this morning.

Marshall says he has three co-sponsors of his amendment: Councilor Jill Duson, Councilor Dory Waxman and Councilor Kevin Donoghue. Councilor Dan Skolnik says he also supports the zoning amendment.

"We don't need a moratorium," Skolnik says. "We can identify and cure any zoning problems that we have in this city with regard to opening up a dispensary without a six-month process."

Portland Mayor Nick Mavodones agrees that a six-month moratorium would take too long. And he says he's leaning toward support of Marshall's amendment, which would appear to have enough votes to pass.

"Certainly we want to ensure that our local zoning in Portland meets the requirements or allows a dispensary, and we'll have to deal with that," Mavodones says. "But I think by sending this directly over to the planning board, I think we can solve that and by doing so we can meet the medical needs of the many people in Cumberland County should the dispensary be located here."

State law permits up to eight dispensaries in eight regions of the state. Several communities have passed moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries. Portland's moratorium would also prevent caregivers from growing medical marijuana for authorized patients, and patients from growing it for themselves. This is something they've been legally allowed to do under state law for 11 years.

Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion says patients shouldn't be burdened by geography when it comes to accessing their medicine. "Your ability to provide care to someone else or to stay healthy shouldn't be a consequence of what community you live in," he says. "I think if care providers or dispensary clinic organizations want to provide those services here in the city we should exercise some leadership and make it happen."

Alysia Melnik, an attorney with the Maine Civil Liberties Union, says there may be another reason for councilors to reject the moratorium. She says it may be more restrictive than state law. "We certainly see that as a problem. The law that was passed by the Legislature permits appropriate regulations by localities around dispensaries. It says nothing in there about allowing regulation or prohibition of growing by patients or their caregivers, which this moratorium does."

Melnik says this could be used as the basis for a legal challenge if the moratorium moves forward. According to a city of Portland spokeswoman, the moratorium was drafted at the request of Councilor John Anton, who was unable to be reached for comment for this story.

Meanwhile, at least one city councilor says she's on the fence about the moratorium and the zoning amendment. "I....It depends. It depends on what's in Dave's proposal," says Councilor Cheryl Leeman.

As a breast cancer survivor herself, Leeman says she supports the use of medical marijuana to treat patients. Her only question is: where to treat them in the city of Portland. "If I'm not happy with the details of what he's presenting, than maybe the only other option will be the six months."

Mayor Nick Mavodones says in the event that the zoning amendment fails to pass, he'll ask that the proposed moratorium be shorter than six months and will move to strip out language that prevents patients and caregivers from growing medical marijuana. The council will take up the issue Monday night.
PORTLAND PRESS HERALD


http://www.pressherald.com/news/Portland-councilor-opposing-medical-marijuana-delay.html

11:34 AM
Portland councilor opposes medical marijuana delay
By John Richardson jrichardson@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

A Portland City Councilor hopes to derail a proposed six-month moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

David Marshall plans to introduce a council order at Monday’s meeting to allow state-licensed dispensaries in the downtown business zones. He is scheduled to formally announce the proposal at a news conference at City hall this morning.

The council's already scheduled to hold a public hearing Monday on a six-month ban that would allow planning officials to create siting and operating rules. The proposal is facing strong opposition because it could delay the opening of the state’s largest dispensary.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is expected to grant the state’s first-ever licenses to eight medical marijuana dispensaries on July 9. The dispensaries would be spread out in eight regions around the state, and the Cumberland County site is widely expected to be somewhere in Portland because of the population size and public transportation network.
PORTLAND DAILY SUN

http://www.portlanddailysun.me/cgi/story2.pl?storyid=20100616055361000622

Marshall sponsors zoning change with dispensaries in mind


Saying a proposed six-month moratorium "isn't necessary," Portland City Councilor Dave Marshall will introduce a plan this morning that would allow registered marijuana dispensaries in downtown business zones.
The order comes in response to a six-month moratorium being proposed by the city attorney, and would change zoning laws to allow the dispensaries.
"The moratorium isn't necessary, as an overwhelming number of voters supported the referendum that led to this," said Marshall, mentioning that "75 percent of people in Portland said having these dispensaries was the right way to go."
The order will be introduced and discussed at a press conference this morning at 10 a.m. at City Hall, and is scheduled for discussion at Monday night's city council meeting.
"I feel it's a more proactive way to define dispensary within zoning code, and to say which zone it's permitted in," said Marshall.

"I think downtown is the most appropriate because of the convenience of public transportation and social services," he added.
Maine's Department of Health and Human Services will select the operators of the state's first eight dispensaries by July 9. The not-for-profit suppliers could open shop within weeks of licensing, depending on how quickly they could grow and process the drug and set up the security and tracking systems required by the state. The eight dispensaries will be in different regions throughout the state, Cumberland and York Counties will each only have one.
The downtown business zones are most appropriate for the dispensary due to the advantages of public transit and close proximity to social services, said Marshall in a Wednesday press release. The order is "a proactive way to deal with the zoning issues regarding the only dispensary for Cumberland County," Marshall said.
Alysia Melnick of the Maine Civil Liberties Union will also be on hand at the press conference to address the legal issues regarding the proposed moratorium.

"Portland is really a service center. It's a place where people have access to public transportation in a state with very little public transportation," Melnick told the Kennebec Journal newspaper earlier this week. "That makes it even more important that Portland not put up barriers to access."
Marshall said he is also going to encourage the council to defeat the proposed moratorium, a measure that he said will not only delay the voter-supported dispensary system, but also the caregivers who have been growing and supplying medical marijuana to Mainers with serious health conditions for over a decade.

"The state has allowed caregivers to grow and provide to patients for the last 11 years, and you haven't seen any negative implications from that," Marshall said.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

PRESS RELEASE CONTACT: Dave Marshall
June 16, 2010 damarshall@portlandmaine.gov
207-409-6617
For Immediate Release:

Councilor Dave Marshall sponsors zoning changes to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in Portland’s Downtown Business Zones and urges the City Council to defeat the City Attorney’s proposed moratorium.

+
WHO: Councilor Dave Marshall, Alysia Melnick of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, Sheriff Mark Dion, and Medical Marijuana advocates

+ WHAT: Press Conference

+ WHERE: Portland City Hall, 389 Congress Street, Portland Maine
+ WHEN: Thursday, June 17, 2010 10:00 am



Portland, ME - Portland City Councilor Dave Marshall will introduce a Council Order to allow Registered Dispensaries in the downtown business zones (B3 Zones and the B7 Zone). The downtown business zones are most appropriate for the dispensary due to the advantages of public transit and close proximity to social services. The Order is a proactive way to deal with the zoning issues regarding the only dispensary for Cumberland County.

Alysia Melnick of the Maine Civil Liberties Union will address the legal issues regarding the proposed moratorium. Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion will provide his perspective on the medical marijuana patients and caregivers for the past eleven years in Maine.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

WGME Channel 13

Live, Work, Portland:

A new marketing plan to bring creative business back
Fresh off passing a budget with a tax increase, cuts to serivices and jobs, the City of Portland launches a new effort to bring in more business, which ultimately means more money. The program is called, "Live, Work, Portland." The goal is to bring back creative business to the city through a new marketing strategy. City Councilor Dave Marshall says
"liveWorkportland.org" is intended to show those from away that this city is re-inventing itself, and the arts district and beyond are ready for even more creative minds, with tax revenue in tow. Marshall says that section of the city has seen an $11 million appreciation in tax revenue over the last few years. And, those are the kinds of numbers businesses like
Portland Color look forward to hearing, saying more business in the city means a potential for more customers.
Posted: Friday, May 28 2010, 08:01 PM EDT



http://www.wgme.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wgme_vid_3769.shtml

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