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High Priority: Legal purchase of medical marijuana the center theme of documentary

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October 21, 2009

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Wednesday night at the University of Southern Maine saw the screening of Waiting To Inhale, a documentary by Jed Riffe on medical marijuana and the importance of its legal purchase. Wendy Chapkis, a professor at USM and author of Dying to Get High presented the film at Luther Bonney Hall located in the middle of campus. The screening, attended by approximately 50 students and faculty, lasted 110 minutes and interviewed many medical marijuana patients who faced self-described problems of obtaining their medicine. Also in attendance were volunteers for the pro-Question 5 campaign. Question 5, if passed, would allow patients to get medical marijuana from non-profit dispensaries and create ID card systems to protect them from arrest.

Before the screening, Question 5 supporter Ben Chipman, a member of the Maine Marijuana Policy Initiative campaign, spoke to the audience about their efforts and about the opportunity to join them. Campaign volunteers also passed out fliers that called for “Safe and reliable access to their medicine,” along with “protection from arrest, loss of job, home, or children for using medicine their doctor recommended.”

Maine Marijuana Policy Initiative.jpg

After the brief speech, Chapkis agreed with the campaign, stating, “This is a critical time in Maine. When it comes to medical marijuana, we need to have ethical medical marijuana provisions to ensure patients’ health and safety.”

The documentary presented a range of topics, from the scientific breakdown of the cannabis plant to political efforts for and against its medical practice. The film began with interviews from a family that grew the plant for medical purposes, and who were raided on September 5, 2009 by Drug Enforcement Administration agents. The film also covered Proposition 215, the 1996 initiative in California that allowed for the medical use for the drug and the aftermath that ensued. Successful creation of ID card systems in the state of California after the measure was passed was shown, with Oakland Cannabis Clubs used as the main example. According to the film, the procedure for obtaining an ID card for medical marijuana included a doctor’s permission and a background check of said doctor by the club. Interviews from physicians, politicians such as Barney Frank, and activists were also included in the documentary.

After the screening, Chapkis was available to sign her book outside of the auditorium, which were also on sale for those in attendance.

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