Pubdate: Tue, 11 Jan 2000
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 2000 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
Author: Joshua L. Weinstein, staff writer  MAP's link to Maine articles is:


Maine's medical marijuana law has been on the books fewer than three weeks,
but it's already causing confusion, so the group that pushed for its
passage has published a primer for patients and doctors.

Mainers for Medical Rights also set up a toll-free number -- (800) 846-1039
- -- that people can call to receive the free, 15-page brochure.

Elizabeth Beane, the organization's spokeswoman, said she began receiving
calls from people with questions about the new law even before it went into
effect Dec. 22. Voters approved the law on Nov. 2.

Under the law, patients can use marijuana if they are diagnosed with
specific conditions such as glaucoma, seizures, persistent muscle spasms
from diseases such as multiple sclerosis and nausea from AIDS or
chemotherapy. It only applies to patients whose medical marijuana use is
recommended by a physician.

"The hope is that patients and doctors will see that they can comply with
the law," Beane said.

Last Thursday, the organization sent 3,000 copies of the booklet to doctors
across the state. When Beane arrived at work Monday morning, she had
telephone messages asking for 100 more copies.

Beane wrote the brochure, with advice from lawyers and national groups that
work to make marijuana legal for medical purposes.

Sally Sutton, executive director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, which
endorsed the law when it was before the voters, said she, too, has received
calls from doctors who have questions about how the new law works.

"People are trying to figure out what it means and what can be done under
it," she said. "It's important that patients get this information, so we're
hoping members of the medical community share this information."

Organizations in other states where marijuana is legal for medicinal
purposes, such as Washington, have published similar booklets.

The Maine booklet contains a summary of the law, frequently asked
questions, a sample form for doctors to provide to their patients and the
complete text of Maine's Medical Marijuana Act.
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MAP posted-by: Eric Ernst