Investigation into large Paris medical marijuana operation ongoing

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PARIS — Police said they are continuing their investigation into individuals suspected of illegally cultivating nearly $500,000 in medical marijuana from a home in a quiet residential neighborhood.

Evidence gathered in the September raid has been referred to the Oxford County District Attorney’s office, police Detective Sgt. Jeffrey Lange, who is spearheading the investigation, said.

Paris police, with the assistance of area law enforcement, seized 18 pounds of marijuana and 173 adult plants from two King Hill Road residences.

Information has not been submitted to a grand jury for a possible indictment. The goods remain locked up in the department’s evidence room, Lange said. 

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He said the decision not to issue summonses was made because the individuals suspected of cultivating the plants have been “very cooperative.”

“We wanted to present the material to the grand jury and let them decide if there’s probable cause to go forward,” Lange said. 

A person at one of the homes was licensed to grow medical marijuana, but had more than the 24 plants allowed. Lange said to his knowledge that license has not been revoked.

Accounts from neighbors suggested that the cultivators had been in contact with police about the size and scale of the outfit just prior to the arrest.

Lange declined to elaborate further, saying only though those stories “weren’t exactly true,” though prior to the seizure, police had been in contact with the individuals in regards to their operation.  

Despite the amount of evidence, Lange said the case wasn’t as open and shut as it appears, and police have been in contact with state regulators for additional information.

Medical marijuana has been legalized in Maine since 1999, when a statewide ballot referendum passed with 61 percent of the vote. It allows patients with a doctor’s permission to have small amounts.

After an amendment three years later, the law allowed licensed caregivers to cultivate and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per patient or cultivate up to six plants for them. 

In 2009, the law was amended again, laying the groundwork for the state to establish and regulate marijuana dispensaries, which broadened the list of conditions for which doctors could write a prescription. 

In 2012, the medical marijuana program generated $10,261 in medical marijuana license application fees and $602,109 in registration fees, according to a study released last year

Those licenses, which are regulated by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Medical Use of Marijuana Program, require each caregiver to pay a $300 registration fee per patient, who are not charged for registering. 

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