By Wendy Chapkis, author of Dying to Get High: Marijuana as Medicine
Last Saturday, I spoke at a terrific medical cannabis conference at the University of Southern Maine. 250 or so people — elected officials, doctors, law enforcement officers, patients, scholars, and activists — convened to discuss how Maine can best implement the recently passed medical marijuana access law in this state.
The conference was opened by Maine State Representative Ann Haskell who shared her experience as a mother looking for marijuana to help her daughter survive cancer chemotherapy-related nausea. Breakout sessions were held for patients, potential dispensary owners, government officials (addressed by the local Sheriff) and health care workers (two sessions were facilitated by the Vice-President of the Maine Medical Association).
But perhaps the most significant moment occurred during the keynote address by television personality and medical marijuana advocate Montel Williams. Momentarily overwhelmed by nerve pain associated with his MS, Williams had stopped speaking to collect himself. As the audience waited in awkward silence, the voice of Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion rose from the back of the auditorium: “Montel,” he gently interceded, “why don’t you just take your medicine?” Montel lit up, took one puff, and followed it by what looked to me like tincture. Conference attendees gave both the patient and the Sheriff a standing ovation.
Portland, Maine: the way life should be.