Pubdate: Thu, 28 Oct 1999
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 1999 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
Author: Joshua L. Weinstein, Staff Writer


Michael Dee made great efforts to get arrested Wednesday. He stood on the
sidewalk at Morrill's Corner holding a marijuana plant in a bright pink pot,
beseeching passing motorists to "Call the cops!"

He did not get arrested.

He did get robbed.

He is not happy.

More on the robbery later. First, Dee's attempt to end up in jail.

About 11 a.m., Portland police -- two officers, Dee says -- stopped by to
talk to the 49-year-old protester.

Michael Dee of Windham, long an advocate of legalizing marijuana, urges
passing motorists to "call the cops" while he waves his marijuana plant from
the side of Forest Avenue. Staff photo by Doug Jones

"They said stay out of the street or they'll come back and arrest me," said
Dee, who says marijuana should be legal for medicinal and recreational purposes.

He wanted to be prosecuted so he would have legal standing to challenge
state and federal marijuana laws, which he believes are unconstitutional.

But the officers declined to arrest him.

"He didn't enforce the law," Dee said. "Chitwood's got some explaining to do
now in my book."

Portland Police Chief Michael Chitwood, who vocally opposes a proposal on
Tuesday's ballot to legalize marijuana for limited medicinal purposes, said
he's never heard of Dee. But he offered an explanation.

"Maybe he should get a bigger plant," the chief said. "Maybe the officers
felt that the plant wasn't a size appropriate to make it a crime."

In Maine, it is a civil infraction -- not a crime -- to possess an
ounce-and-a-quarter of marijuana or less. The officers could have issued Dee
a summons to appear in court, but Chitwood said they're not required to.

"It's officers' discretion," he said. "One plant, I guess he's looking to be
a martyr for his cause."

Perhaps. But he was ultimately foiled, he believes, by a couple of teen-agers.

After his protest at Morrill's Corner, Dee planned to walk into Portland --
"I could have lost my car by driving around with that plant" -- where he
wanted to see Chitwood. "If they didn't do anything, I was going to go down
to the courthouse and leave it. Because I didn't want to bring anything home."

But Dee, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of
Wyoming, noticed that his plant, which he said wouldn't have yielded even an
ounce of marijuana, was wilting. So he went to a Big Apple store to buy a
bottle of water.

"I left my property outside because I didn't want a hassle with the
management. I come back out -- wasn't very long -- and my plant was gone. So
that ruined my whole day."

He believes that some teen-agers who had spoken to him made off with the
plant. "They didn't do a good job for the cause," Dee said glumly. "They
were a little selfish there."

Dee did not file a police report about the theft.

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