Pubdate: Sat, 26 May 2001
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 2001 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.


FARMINGTON - A Superior Court judge has refused to drop charges against a 
man from New Vineyard who claimed that the state's medical marijuana law is 

Leonard Ellis, 63, admitted that he grew more than he was allowed under the 
Medicinal Marijuana Act to treat his muscular dystrophy symptoms, but he 
said the statute is flawed and he shouldn't be prosecuted.

Judge Kirk Studstrup denied Ellis' request.

"It was assumed by the initiators of the legislation that marijuana would 
be readily available in small quantities," he said in his decision.

However, he said, the law "included very strict limitations on the medical 
conditions and the amounts allowed. The flexibility is not there, and there 
is no basis to grant a dismissal."

Ellis' lawyer, David Sanders, argued that the statute allows patients to 
use marijuana but doesn't provide a reasonable provision for patients to 
get a constant supply of marijuana throughout the year.

Ellis said that he smokes an average of five marijuana cigarettes a day to 
diminish his pain, and that he grew so much in his garden so he can store 
enough for the future.

The Medicinal Marijuana Act allows patients who suffer from certain serious 
diseases to possess six plants. No more than three may be mature, flowering 
plants. Patients may also have one ounce of harvested marijuana, if they 
have a doctor's note recommending its use.

Police said they found 83 plants, three coffee cans of harvested marijuana, 
43 cigarettes, a baggy and a glass container at Ellis' home.

"I wanted to grow enough to last my lifetime," Ellis said.

Ellis said the pain from the muscular dystrophy has gotten so bad that he 
occasionally spends weeks in bed, but the marijuana eases the pain of the 
muscle spasms. He said he couldn't tolerate the side effects of 
conventional medications.

He said he couldn't afford to buy the amount of marijuana he needs to make 
his pain disappear - a week's worth costs about $150.

Sanders said Ellis shouldn't be penalized by a flawed law.

"The people of this state have recognized when someone is suffering from a 
chronic disease, they ought to be allowed to use marijuana," he said. "Mr. 
Ellis has in fact broken the law, but has broken it for a good reason. He 
was only trying to get relief."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom