Despite court order, Millinocket man refuses to stop smoking pot

Posted April 15, 2011, at 6:12 p.m.
Last modified April 25, 2011, at 3:07 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Millinocket man’s adversarial relationship with federal authorities went from bad to worse recently when police conducted a probation check on him and removed 44 marijuana plants from a home he and his wife rent in Gouldsboro, according to federal court documents.

By his own admission, Jeffrey Barnard, 47, refuses to stop smoking marijuana, even though federal officials take a dim view of his habit. He said he needs the plants, which were removed from the house on March 30, to help him medically address pain from multiple injuries he has suffered over the years. He claims he has been a registered marijuana patient in Maine since last September.

But Barnard is a convicted felon, and having served three years in prison on a firearms conviction, he is on federal probation, the terms of which explicitly bar him from possessing or using alcohol or drugs. According to federal officials, Barnard tested positive for marijuana use 23 times between June 4, 2009, and Dec. 22, 2009, before Maine’s medical marijuana law was adopted and made retroactive to Dec. 23, 2009. Federal law does not permit the medicinal use of marijuana.

Last November, Barnard filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Bangor asking for permission to smoke marijuana for medical purposes, but Judge John Woodcock denied Barnard’s request. Barnard repeatedly flouted the terms of his probation before Maine adopted its medical marijuana law, Woodcock wrote in his Jan. 24 decision. And while Barnard has provided the court with a copy of his official registration card for the state medicinal marijuana program, he has not produced any evidence that a physician has recommended that he use marijuana for medicinal purposes, the judge indicated.

Maine’s medical marijuana law “is not open-ended legislation, making marijuana available for every person who wishes to smoke,” Woodcock wrote. “Mr. Barnard presents a singularly unsupported legal or factual case for his motion to remove a duly authorized condition of his supervised release.”

An official with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland declined Thursday to comment about Barnard’s case.

In a phone interview from Millinocket on Wednesday, Barnard said he and his wife, who has received state approval to use marijuana for medical purposes, were in the process of obtaining state permission to grow marijuana for other patients when police searched their Gouldsboro property on March 30. Though state law allows each registered patient to have a maximum of six plants, Barnard claimed that it is legal to have more as long as no more than six of them are flowering at one time.

“They didn’t have a warrant. What they did was wrong,” Barnard said about the confiscation of the plants. “That’s the problem. [Federal officials] are getting between my doctor and my health. I’m not stopping my medical marijuana [usage].”

Barnard claims he needs the drug for chronic pain. He has been prescribed painkiller pills, but said he doesn’t like to take them because of side effects he experiences when he does.

Barnard blames some of his physical pain on a 2004 police raid on a Kelly Lane house in Millinocket where he was living. Police went to the Millinocket house in search of weapons, which Barnard was not allowed to possess because of a prior felony conviction, and found several, according to court documents, including a loaded rifle next to his bed and a large hunting knife hidden in the bed.

Barnard said he also suffered serious injuries to his left leg when he jumped from a balcony onto a concrete floor while incarcerated at the Cumberland County Jail in June 2010.

After the 2000 police raid on his Millinocket house, Barnard claimed he had been injured by officers during the incident and sued the town, the county, the state and police agencies involved in the raid for $1.5 million. The suit later was thrown out after a federal judge ruled that subsequent hospital visits indicated he had not suffered any serious injuries during the raid and subsequent arrest, according to court documents.

Barnard’s attorney, Marvin Glazier of Bangor, declined Friday to comment about Barnard because of confidentiality concerns. According to online federal court records, Glazier has filed a motion to withdraw as Barnard’s attorney.

The same online records indicate that after Barnard failed to appear Tuesday in court for a hearing on Glazier’s motion, Woodcock granted motions to revoke Barnard’s bail and to issue a warrant for his arrest.

Barnard, reached Friday afternoon by phone in Millinocket, said he had not been contacted or informed about any warrant issued for his arrest.

CORRECTION:

An earlier version of this story contained some inaccurate information. The story should have indicated that Jeffrey Barnard is 47 years old, that he and his wife rent a home in Gouldsboro, and that a police raid on a Millinocket home where Barnard was living at the time happened in 2000, not in 2004.

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