Pubdate: Sat, 02 Jun 2001
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 2001 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
Author: Associated Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


FARMINGTON - A New Vineyard man who said he used marijuana to ease the 
painful symptoms of muscular dystrophy pleaded no contest and was fined 
$200 in Franklin County Superior Court.

Leonard Ellis, 63, was arrested last summer after officers seized 83 
marijuana plants, along with some processed marijuana, from his property.

Ellis, who smokes about five marijuana cigarettes a day, admitted he had 
more marijuana than allowed under Maine's medical marijuana law. He said he 
planted a great deal of marijuana because he wanted to store some of it for 
the day when he was too sick to grow it. He said it's too expensive to buy.

More than 60 percent of Maine voters approved the medical marijuana 
initiative, which was designed to provide people with specific chronic 
illnesses such as AIDS and cancer some relief from their pain.

Justice Kirk Studstrup acknowledged that a majority of Mainers voted for 
the medical marijuana law.

"But (I doubt) whether 60 percent of the voters would have voted in favor 
of it if there had been no limit on the amount a person can have," the 
judge said Thursday at the sentencing.

The Medicinal Marijuana Act allows patients suffering from certain diseases 
to possess six plants, of which no more than three may be mature, flowering 
plants. Patients may also have 1 ounce of harvested marijuana, if patients 
have a doctor's note recommending its use.

In addition to 83 plants, police said they found three coffee cans of 
harvested marijuana, 43 cigarettes, a Baggie and a glass container at 
Ellis' home.

Ellis' lawyer, David Sanders of Livermore Falls, said the statute is a 
"cruel hoax" because it is impossible for someone following the guidelines 
to have enough supply on hand for a patient like Ellis.

Ellis, who lives on Social Security, told Studstrup he knows he broke the 
law but said he used the marijuana for medical purposes.

"When I use pot, it's wonderful to be able to wake up in the morning and 
feel refreshed from a good night's sleep and to be able to function," he said.

But Assistant District Attorney Andrew Robinson reminded Studstrup that 
witnesses last week testified that they had seen Ellis smoking pot at 
social gatherings and at card games.

After his arrest, Ellis switched to traditional painkillers but he is now 
growing marijuana again.

By pleading no contest, he did not admit to the misdemeanor cultivation 
charge but he agreed not to fight it. A no contest plea is treated the same 
way as a guilty plea.
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