Washington marijuana caregiver files suit to challenge state fees

Posted Nov. 21, 2012, at 4:22 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A marijuana caregiver from Washington has filed a lawsuit against the state challenging the right of a state agency to impose fees without legislative approval.

A lawsuit was filed on John Stewart’s behalf Tuesday in Knox County Superior Court asking for a declaratory judgment by the court that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ division of licensing and regulatory services exceeded its authority in imposing fees.

The lawsuit asks for the court to block the state agency from enforcing the marijuana caregiver registration fees.

Stewart paid $900 in 2011 and $900 in 2012, according to the lawsuit.

Stewart, who is also a qualifying patient for medical marijuana use, argues in the lawsuit that DHHS failed to lawfully adopt rules for the medical marijuana program.

Stewart seeks the return of $1,800 he has paid during the past two years, and asked the court to pay his court and attorney fees.

Stewart said Wednesday that the $300 registration fee per patient per year was excessive, particularly for small farmers.

He is represented by attorney Gregory Braun of Bridgton.

John Martins, DHHS director of public and employee communications, said Wednesday that the agency has no comment since the matter involves a pending lawsuit.

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