Augusta Man Facing Jail Time After Medical Marijuana Rule Change
Augusta - An Augusta man could be headed to jail because he didn't have the proper paperwork from the state in order to have medical marijuana.
The problem stems from a change in the law that took effect January 1st.
Last November, Beau Cornish was diagnosed with debilitating diseases that brought him to Maine Integrative Healthcare in Hallowell.
A doctor told him his conditions made him eligible, under Maine law, to use medical marijuana to treat his chronic back pain and hepatitis C. "He told me I was legal to grow 99 plants, 6 budding, 2 1/2 ounces on my person at any one time and I went home," Cornish says.
Cornish is also on probation in Kennebec County. He told his probation officer about the marijuana he had growing in his home and showed him the note from his doctor. But in January, the law changed. Cornish needed a registry identification card from the Department of Health and Human Services. He says his doctor told him something different. "They informed me that I was still under the Maine law and the state police were still recognizing these forms until I got my medical marijuana card."
DHHS officials say that's not true. "Law enforcement officers were advised to go with soft gloves if they found someone with medical marijuana who claimed they had submitted their application to us," says Cynthia Cobb, Director of Licensing and Regulatory Services at DHHS.
Cornish had not submitted his application before January 7th, the day Kennebec County Sheriff's deputies came knocking. "They searched my whole place, tore everything apart," Cornish says. "I showed them the grow room. They went into the room. I heard some plastic ripping and thrashing around in there."
Cornish was charged with numerous drug offenses. Cynthia Cobb says without having even applied for his registry identification card from the state of Maine the law is simple. "Your breaking the law," Cobb says. "And one of the things I keep emphasizing is the letter from the physician is not a prescription. The letter from the physician is an authorization to use medical marijuana."
Cornish's lawyer advised him to plead guilty and enter a program that would most likely spare him jail time, but he wants a jury to decide his fate. "If they feel that I was growing it without the correct medical ailments or if I was illegally growing it without the correct medical ailments or if I was illegally growing it altogether then find me guilty. I'm willing to take that risk."
Cornish is due in court next month
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