AUGUSTA — Yes, the Home Grown Maine trade show and exposition put on by Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine will go on as scheduled Saturday and Sunday at the Augusta Civic Center.

Organizers of the event said Friday the group’s trade show Facebook page was hacked on Thursday and a false cancellation notice was put up there for a time.

“It is unfortunate that someone would want to sabotage our event,” Kim Printy, executive director of the caregivers’ group, said in announcement posted Friday on that same Facebook page. “Ultimately it hurts the 2,500 caregivers in Maine who look forward to attending the trade show to take advantage of educational opportunities so they are able to better serve their patients.”

It’s the second time that the caregivers’ website has been attacked. Catherine Lewis, chairman of the board of Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, as well as its director of education, said Friday that unknown people shut down the organization’s website about two months ago in the middle of the night, forcing technicians to scramble.

She said the attacks on the website seem to occur after the organization puts out a cannabis position statement.

“We will be pursing this a little further,” she said of the more recent cyberattack.

This is the second year in a row that the show has been held at the Augusta Civic Center; it premiered there in 2011, marking the first time the group had been granted permission to medicate in public.

The show this year has 130 exhibitors registered, which is 25 more than last year, according to Earl Kingsbury, civic center director.

The event is billed as “the largest medical marijuana trade show in New England,” featuring educational workshops and panels on issues related to medical marijuana as well as vendors offering new methods of marijuana processing and extraction systems.

Printy said in the posting that some 3,000 people are expected to attend. The show, opening at 9 a.m. Saturday, is open to the public, and there is an admission fee.

Since smoking is prohibited on Augusta Civic Center grounds, a tent is erected in the parking lot where patients prescribed medical marijuana can use vaporizers to get their medication. Entry to the “vape tent” requires pre-approval from the staff of Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine as a valid state of Maine patient.

This year show rules don’t allow people to bring live marijuana plants inside, to prevent the spread of insects or plant disease.

Kingsbury said the caregivers’ group putting on the event is conscientious. “They’re very well organized. They know the law and make sure any exhibitors and attendees are following the laws,” he said.

He said at last year’s event, 30 to 40 volunteers were “constantly walking around to make sure everybody is doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”

Organizers posted “Trade Show Rules” Friday at the civic center stating that “buying, selling, bartering or raffling of medical marijuana” is prohibited. The rules also say, “A certified patient or caregiver may donate medical marijuana to another certified patient.”

The event will feature medical marijuana merchandise, including toys from an Angrybuds.com booth, plus feature discussion panels on topics that include pest management, legislation, legal issues and interacting with the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Augusta police Deputy Chief Jared Mills said Friday there have been no criminal problems previously at the event. “Unless requested by the Civic Center, we do not anticipate any increased presence at the event,” Mills said.

A marijuana event organized last year by a different group in Portland ultimately was canceled after a permit was denied, following concerns about marijuana being consumed in a tent area.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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