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Pro-pot Activist Criticizes Police

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
The organizer of a pro-marijuana festival held in Harmony this past weekend said he objects to police and drug enforcement agents coming onto his property without a warrant.

Donald Christen, founder of Maine Vocals, which has sponsored pro-hemp festivals for many years in Starks and now, in Harmony, said Maine State Police and members of the Maine Drug Enforce-ment Agency also patrolled Route 150 in Athens, just south of Harmony, turning the village into a "blue-light special."

"They must have stopped 200-300 people out there this weekend and they had a much bigger presence than what they're letting on," Christen said. "They also had more people on site than just one who were operating on our property without a warrant.

"Police activities on private property are unjustified without a warrant. It's not public property, it's private property. They need a warrant. It's illegal."

Not so, says Roy McKinney, director of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and Lt. Don Pomelow, commander of the Maine State Police troop in Skowhegan.

"You do not need a warrant," McKinney said Wednesday. "There is no expectation of privacy and that is the benchmark by which the courts look at issues in regard to search warrants -- is there an expectation of privacy.

"Inviting the public into a section of land -- where's the privacy?"

McKinney said the rule would not go so far as to allow searches of bedrooms in a private home or personal searches of individuals at a gathering without a search warrant. In such cases, he said, there would be the expectation of privacy.

Pomelow agreed with McKinney, saying an event in which the public is invited is open to all visitors, even police, without a warrant.

"It's a public venue -- we were on that property because of complaints -- we were on that property because of noise complaints," he said.

Christen said he was told that residents of Athens, where state police pulled over motorists from late Thursday into Monday, were unhappy with all the police presence.

"The whole town of Athens was kind of in an uproar about what police did because the whole town turned into nothing but a blue-light special for three days," he said. "They could have done it in a more rural area, not right in the town.

"They stopped everybody that they could right in the center of Athens. Obviously it was a targeted area. They were fishing and it was good fishing."

Christen, who purchased the land on Carson Hill in Harmony just last year, said he is glad police are weeding out the hard drug users and discouraging drug dealers from coming to rural Maine.

"We're not really opposed to them getting hard drugs; we don't want them on our festival site anyway," he said. "We're not interested in having that at all -- this is a marijuana movement, not a drug movement -- we don't want it there, we don't promote it."

McKinney said MDEA seized eight pounds of marijuana.

A 21-foot motor home also was seized on Route 150 after it left the festival Monday morning.

At least seven people were arrested and taken to jail, but McKinney and Pomelow said they still are compiling the numbers from the Harmony festival and from the Starks festival last month.

*some content has been edited to meet posting guidelines

News Hawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Morning Sentinal
Author: Doug Harlow
Copyright: 2008 Blethen Maine Newspapers, Inc.
Contact: Morning Sentinel of Waterville, Maine
Website: Pro-pot activist criticizes police
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