The U.S. Attorney in Maine has sent a letter to state legislators saying Maine's decade-old medical marijuana act contradicts federal law and that the U.S. Department of Justice is concerned about pending changes to the state law.
The Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee plans to meet at 3 p.m. today to discuss the letter from U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty. Maine Attorney General William Schneider also will attend the meeting.
Delahanty's letter, dated May 16, came in response to a request from the lawmakers who debated changes in the state law earlier this month.
U.S. Attorneys in several other states, including Rhode Island, have issued letters in recent weeks warning state officials that medical marijuana use remains a federal crime and warning that state laws were going too far in sanctioning cultivation, sale and use of the drug.
Maine is one of a growing number of states to allow medical use of marijuana and one of a handful of states to create a distribution system to provide access to the drug.
According to Delahanty's letter, "while the department does not focus its limited resources on seriously ill individuals who use marijuana as part of a medically recommended treatment regimen in compliance with state law ... we will enforce the (Controlled Substances Act) vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law."
The letter does not say specifically what parts of the pending legislation are of concern. The bill, which was unanimously endorsed by the committee, would make state registration optional for medical marijuana patients, among other things.
By John Richardson
may 18, 2011
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Maine's U.S. Attorney voices medical marijuana concerns