News

Legislative Update

Bills Under Consideration by the Maine Legislature Winter-Spring 2014.

 

LD 1597 

"An Act To Clarify Provisions of the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act" 

Sponsored by: Representative Drew Gattine of Westbrook

PUBLIC HEARING on LD 1597:

Tuesday, Feb 11th, 1:00pm

Location: Health and Human Services Committee,Room 209

Cross Building, Capitol Complex, Augusta

 

Summary: 

This bill amends the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act to specify that access to a marijuana cultivation facility operated by a patient, a primary caregiver or a dispensary is open to government officials acting within the scope of their employment, under the direct supervision of the patient, the primary caregiver or a principal officer, board member or employee of the dispensary.

 

Full text of bill: 

http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/billtexts/HP116801.asp

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

LD 1739

 

An Act To Amend the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act

 

(Dept of Health & Human Services Bill)

Sponsored By: Representative MARK DION of Portland 

Cosponsored By: Representative GATTINE of Westbrook; Senator HAMPER of Oxford; Representative HICKMAN of Winthrop

PUBLIC HEARING on LD 1739:

Tuesday, Feb 11th, 1:00pm

 

Location: Health and Human Services Committee,Room 209

 

Cross Building, Capitol Complex, Augusta

 

The summary of the bill starts out: 

During the First Regular Session of the 126th Legislature, the Legislature passed six separate laws that affected the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act in various ways. 

The purpose of this bill is to clarify and coordinate those changes.”

 Key changes proposed by the DHHS Bill:

 

1. Amends the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act to state that a registered caregiver is allowed to:

Assist a maximum of 5 patients who have designated the primary caregiver to cultivate marijuana for their medical use of marijuana.” 

(The current provision states that a caregiver can “Assist no more than 5 patients at any one time.”)

 

2. Adds certified nurse practitioners to the list of medical professionals allowed to issue a written certification for the qualifying patient's medical use of marijuana.

 

3. Prohibits the use, possession or sale of kief, defined as: “the tetrahydrocannabinol crystals and hairs from cannabis plants that have been extracted by scraping or shaking or another method.”

 

3. Clarifies that tinctures containing marijuana are considered food containing marijuana, and fall under the same legal restrictions on the production and sale of foods containing marijuana

 

4. Clarifies that a medical provider's written certification for the medical use of marijuana expires within one year after issuance (seemingly allowing a recommendation to be dated for less than a year.)

 

5. Authorizes disclosure of registered primary caregiver and dispensary information to the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Maine Revenue Services for taxation compliance purposes.

 

6. Authorizes the DHHS to investigate complaints against a registered primary caregiver or a registered dispensary to ensure compliance.

 

7. Authorizes the Office of the Attorney General to file a complaint with the District Court seeking civil fines. injunctive relief, or both for a violation by a registered primary caregiver or a registered dispensary.

 

8. Authorizes the DHHS to collect, possess, transport and perform laboratory testing on soil and plant samples, and samples of products containing marijuana from registered primary caregivers and registered dispensaries to determine compliance and for evidence purposes.

 

9. Moves regulation of best practices for pesticide use on medical marijuana from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, to the Department of Health and Human Services.

 

 

Full text of bill: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/billtexts/HP124501.asp 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

 

LD 1623 

 

An Act To Further Protect Patient Access to Safe Medical Marijuana by Allowing Dispensaries To Purchase Excess Marijuana from Other Dispensaries 

 

Sponsored by Representative Deb Sanderson of Chelsea.

 

PUBLIC HEARING on LD 1623:

 

Tuesday, Feb 11th, 1:00pm

 

Location: Health and Human Services Committee,Room 209

 

Cross Building, Capitol Complex, Augusta

 

Summary: 

 

This bill would allow Maine dispensaries to purchase and sell excess prepared marijuana from and to each other.

 

Full text of bill: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/billtexts/HP119501.asp

 

 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

 LD1674

 

An Act To Further Ensure the Provision of Safe Medical Marijuana to Maine Patients

 

Sponsored by Senator Saviello of Franklin.

 

History

 

On June 14, 2013, the Legislature passed LD 1531, “An Act To Maintain Access to Safe Medical Marijuana” sponsored by Rep. Saviello and supported by the DHHS and the Dispensary Association.

 

The bill prohibits the use of most pesticides on medical marijuana being cultivated for sale by a registered caregiver or dispensary.

 

The legislation limited pesticide use allowed for dispensaries and registered caregivers to only those included in the list of minimum risk pesticides that are exempt under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, Section 25(b).

 

The list of allowed pesticides includes:

 

Castor oil (U.S.P. or equivalent); Linseed oil; Cedar oil; Malic acid; Cinnamon and cinnamon oil; Mint and mint oil; Citric acid; Peppermint and peppermint oil; Citronella and Citronella oil; 2-Phenethyl propionate (2-phenylethyl propionate); Cloves and clove oil; Potassium sorbate; Corn gluten meal; Putrescent whole egg solids; Corn oil; Rosemary and rosemary oil; Cottonseed oil; Sesame and sesame oil; Dried Blood; Sodium chloride (common salt); Eugenol; Sodium lauryl sulfate; Garlic and garlic oil; Soybean oil; Geraniol; Thyme and thyme oil; Geranium oil; White pepper; Lauryl sulfate; Zinc metal strips (consisting solely of zinc metal and impurities); Lemongrass oil.

 

 

 

LD 1674, An Act To Further Ensure the Provision of Safe Medical Marijuana to Maine Patients, would expand the list of allowed pesticides to include any pesticide labeled safe for use on all plants, and used in compliance with best management practices being developed by the Department of Health & Human Services. 

 

Full text of bill: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/billtexts/SP064101.asp

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

LR 2491

 

An Act Relating to Nursing Home and Hospice Patients and Medical Marijuana Use 

 

Sponsor: Senator Lachowicz of Waterville 

Summary:

This bill would ensure that patients in a hospice or nursing facility could access doctor-recommended marijuana for medical use in the form of edibles, tincture, salve, or inhaled through a vaporizer.

The legislation would remove unnecessary restrictions preventing hospice and nursing facilities from allowing medical use of marijuana that were created by DHHS rule changes in December 2012. 

Status: At the appeals meeting on January 23, 2014, the Legislative Council has voted unanimously in favor of allowing this bill to be heard and voted on this session.

____________________________________________________

LD1669

"An Act To Standardize and Simplify the Process for Employers To Provide a Drug-free Workplace"

Sponsored By: Senator CUSHING of Penobscot

Cosponsored By: Representative DAVIS of Sangerville; Senator LANGLEY of Hancock; Representative LOCKMAN of Amherst; Representative MALABY of Hancock; Representative VOLK of Scarborough

This bill from the Department of Labor would be the first of its type in the nation if passed, authorizing the the DOL to develop a standardized policy for businesses with government-approved "Drug-free workplace" policies. The DOL would like to implement new rules in 2015.

Current law allows a business to implement a Drug-free workplace policy, developed in conjunction with employees and the DOL, and to include variations that can allow medical use of marijuana.

This bill would remove employee involvement, and would also require the Dept of Health & Human Services to develop rules on implementing and standardizing workplace drug tests.

More info on the bill:

http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/billtexts/SP066401.asp

____________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

Contact information for legislators:

 

http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/townlist.htm

 

 

Public Hearings will be scheduled sometime between February and May, 2014. Hearings will be posted at: http://www.mmcmonline.org/news

----------------------------------------------------------------------

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

New Marijuana Laws as of the Spring 2013 Legislative Session

 

MMCM worked with Representative Paul Gilbert of Jay to pass LD 1404, An Act To Ensure the Integrity of Maine’s Medical Marijuana Program.

The new law allows caregivers to have one employee, and to donate excess marijuana to patients (both previously prohibited by the DHHS).

+++

The DHHS and Dispensary operators succeeded in passing LD1531, An Act To Maintain Access to Safe Medical Marijuana.

The new law limits dispensaries and caregivers to using “minimum risk” pesticides that are exempt from federal regulation under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, Section 25(b). This bill goes into effect immediately.

+++

MMCM worked with Representatives Elizabeth Dickerson and Mark Dion to pass LD 1062, An Act To Add Conditions That Qualify for Medical Marijuana Use.

Check out the Free Press article on the bill, “Local Combat Veteran Believes Medicinal Marijuana Can Help Treat PTSD.” 

The bill will add PTSD, inflammatory bowel disease, dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders, and other diseases causing severe and persistent muscle spasms to those for which a doctor is allowed to recommend medical use of marijuana. The law goes into effect on October 9, 2013.

+++

LD 1462, An Act To Clarify and Correct Provisions of the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act , will allow maintenance workers in a grow room and remove the requirement that caregivers tag plants with a patient's name. The law goes into effect on October 9, 2013.

+++

LD 480, An Act To Establish Fees under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act, sponsored by Representative Deb Sanderson, will place limits on the fees the DHHS can charge caregivers and dispensaries. The law goes into effect October 9, 2013.

+++

LD1423, An Act To Amend the Medical Marijuana Law Regarding Excess Harvested Marijuana,  sponsored by Representative Craig Hickman, will allow registered caregivers to sell up to 2 pounds of marijuana a year to dispensaries. The law goes into effect October 9, 2013.

 

MORE DETAILS ON THE BILLS

 

LD1062

An Act To Add Conditions That Qualify for Medical Marijuana Use

Bill text: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/chapters/PUBLIC361.asp

Sponsored By: Representative DICKERSON of Rockland

Cosponsored By: Representative DION of Portland; Senator GERZOFSKY of Cumberland; Representative MASTRACCIO of Sanford; Representative RUSSELL of Portland; Representative VILLA of Harrison

Summary: This bill adds Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), inflammatory bowel disease, dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders, and other diseases causing severe and persistent muscle spasms. to the list of qualifying conditions for which a doctor is allowed to recommend medical use of marijuana.

++++++++++++++

 LD 1462

An Act To Clarify and Correct Provisions of the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act

Bill text: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/chapters/PUBLIC374.asp

Sponsored By: Representative DION of Portland Cosponsored By: Representative FARNSWORTH of Portland; Representative GILBERT of Jay; Representative HARVELL of Farmington; Senator HASKELL of Cumberland; Representative HAYES of Buckfield; Senator LANGLEY of Hancock; Representative MOONEN of Portland; Representative SANDERSON of Chelsea; Senator VALENTINO of York

Summary:

- The bill allows access to a dispensary or caregiver's cultivation facility to maintenance, repair, construction, and EMS workers, and provides a waiver for state employees to have access.

- It removes the DHHS Rule that dispensaries and caregivers tag plants with a patient's name.

It requires Dispensaries to use a numerical identification system to track marijuana plants from cultivation to sale and to track prepared marijuana from acquisition to sale.

It does not place tracking requirements on caregivers. It does require a caregiver to use a numerical identification system to enable the primary caregiver to identify marijuana plants cultivated for a patient.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

LD 1531

An Act To Maintain Access to Safe Medical Marijuana

Bill text: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/chapters/PUBLIC371.asp

Sponsored by Senator Saviello.

Summary:

The bill prohibits dispensaries and caregivers from using pesticides that require federal registration on medical marijuana. The bill does allow use of any of the pesticides included in the list list of minimum risk pesticides that are exempt from federal regulation under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, Section 25(b). 

The list includes: Castor oil (U.S.P. or equivalent); Linseed oil; Cedar oil; Malic acid;Cinnamon and cinnamon oil; Mint and mint oil; Citric acid; Peppermint and peppermint oil; Citronella and Citronella oil; 2-Phenethyl propionate (2-phenylethyl propionate); Cloves and clove oil; Potassium sorbate; Corn gluten meal; Putrescent whole egg solids; Corn oil; Rosemary and rosemary oil; Cottonseed oil; Sesame (includes ground sesame plant) and sesame oil; Dried Blood; Sodium chloride (common salt); Eugenol; Sodium lauryl sulfate; Garlic and garlic oil; Soybean oil; Geraniol; Thyme and thyme oil; Geranium oil; White pepper; Lauryl sulfate Zinc metal strips (consisting solely of zinc metal and impurities); Lemongrass oil.

The Department of Agriculture stated during the development of Maine's medical marijuana law in 2009, “...Any pesticide used in the United States has to be registered with the Environmental  Protection Agency and, if used in Maine, with the Board of Pesticides Control. The chemical companies register their products for use on specific crops. There are 643 products with active federal registrations for tobacco and zero for marijuana. A grower using a chemical, including those used in organic production, to control a disease or pest in the growing operation would be using it illegally."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 

- LD 1404

An Act To Ensure the Integrity of Maine’s Medical Marijuana Program

Bill text: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/chapters/PUBLIC396.asp

Sponsored By: Representative GILBERT of Jay Cosponsored By: Representative BLACK of Wilton; Representative CASSIDY of Lubec; Representative CHIPMAN of Portland; Representative DION of Portland; Representative HARVELL of Farmington; Representative KRUGER of Thomaston; Senator LACHOWICZ of Kennebec; Representative SANDERSON
of Chelsea; Senator WHITTEMORE of Somerset

Summary:

The bill allows caregivers to donate excess marijuana to patients, reversing a prior DHHS rule banning caregiver donation to patients.

It allows a caregiver to have one employee.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

LD 480

An Act To Establish Fees under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act

Bill text: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/chapters/PUBLIC394.asp

Sponsored By: Representative SANDERSON of Chelsea

Cosponsored By: Representative FARNSWORTH of Portland; Representative GATTINE of Westbrook; Senator HAMPER of Oxford; Representative HARVELL of Farmington; Representative MALABY of Hancock; Representative PETERSON of Rumford; Senator PLUMMER of Cumberland; Representative SIROCKI of Scarborough; Representative WILSON of Augusta 

Summary:

The bill would set a range for the following fees: Dispensary certification and relocation fees; Caregiver and Dispensary fees for issuing and replacing registry identification cards; Criminal history record information fee; Lab testing fee. It clarifies that there are no fees for patients or non-cultivating caregivers. It will require that when the Medical Marijuana Program balance exceeds $400,000 and guarantees a lower rate will be in effect for a 2-year period.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

LD 1423

An Act To Amend the Medical Marijuana Law Regarding Excess Harvested Marijuana

Bill Text: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/chapters/PUBLIC393.asp

Sponsored By: Representative HICKMAN of Winthrop Cosponsored By: Representative DION of Portland; Senator GERZOFSKY of Cumberland

Summary: The bill allows registered caregivers (not patients) to sell up to 2 pounds a year of excess marijuana to dispensaries. 

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bills Proposed to the 126th Maine Legislature that Died in Committee or the Senate 

LD 1161 


An Act To Ensure Regulated Safe Access to Medical Marijuana

Bill text: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/display_ps.asp?ld=1161&PID=1456&snum=126

Sponsored By: Senator GERZOFSKY of Cumberland

Summary: This bill proposed to increase the number of medical marijuana dispensaries.

It would have added tracking and new regulatory requirements for caregivers that are providing to patients who are not household or family members.

Outcome: The Health & Human Services Committee voted unanimously Ought Not to Pass.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++LD 1229

An Act To Regulate and Tax Marijuana

Bill text:http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/billtexts/HP086802.asp

Sponsored by Rep. Russell of Portland

Summary: The original text of this bill would have allowed sale of cannabis for recreational use based on model language developed by the Marijuana Policy Project out of D.C. It would have included at $50 per ounce tax and required rule-making to set up new Administration to oversee and implement regulations and enforcement of the tax.

A minority report was passed out of the Criminal Justice Committee, crafted by Rep. Wilson, Rep. Plummer and Rep. Russell. The amendment would remove all language from the bill except for requiring a voter referendum, sending the question out to Maine voters asking to have the lottery and liquor control agency to write a marijuana tax and regulations law for Maine. The referendum would not have resulted in direct decriminalization or legalization, or allowed people to grow or possess any amount until after agency rulemaking and the bill being crafted by the Criminal Justice Commitee.)

Outcome:

The Criminal Justice Committee voted Majority Ought Not To Pass.

The Bill was killed in the House and Senate.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 

LD 525

An Act To Promote Industrial Hemp

Bill text: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/billtexts/HP034402.asp

Sponsored By: Representative HARVELL of Farmington and Representative SANDERSON of Chelsea

Cosponsors: Representative BENNETT of Kennebunk; Representative CHASE of Wells; Representative HICKMAN of Winthrop; Representative JONES of Freedom; Representative KESCHL of Belgrade; Representative PARRY of Arundel; Senator PLUMMER of Cumberland; Representative RUSSELL of Portland; Representative SIROCKI of Scarborough 

Summary:

Maine currently has an industrial hemp law that would allows Maine farmers to cultivate hemp ONLY IF the Federal Government approves of the license.

This bill removes the requirement for Federal approval and removes the requirement that an applicant for an initial license to grow industrial hemp for commercial purposes must submit a set of the applicant’s fingerprints.

It requires that any hemp seeds acquired for cultivation of hemp in the State come from an approved Canadian producer of hemp seeds. The amendment allows the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to issue licenses for hemp seed distribution to holders of seed labeling licenses. The amendment also allows hemp growers licensed by the State to acquire hemp seeds directly from a producer in Canada or from a state-licensed hemp seed distributor. The amendment requires that application fees and license fees are established by major substantive rules. The amendment adds an appropriations and allocations section to the bill.

 Outcome: The Agriculture Committee voted 12-1 in favor of allowing Maine farmers to grow hemp.

It passed unanimously in the House of Representatives.

The Senate sent the bill to the Appropriations Table, where the members voted against agriculture in Maine and killed the bill with an 11-2 ought not to pass vote.

 

 

 

NEW ENGLANDS LARGEST MEDICAL MARIJUANA EXPO

2nd Annual Home Grown Maine

Medical Marijuana Trade Show

 

Saturday, November 10th
9:00 am - 9:00 PM, Saturday, November 10th, 2012
Holiday Inn by the Bay, Portland, Maine

Admission: Suggested Donation - $10 for members of the Public, $5 for Veterans,

Free for MMCM members. No one turned away for inability to pay.

 

Featuring vendors, educational workshops, speakers, music, and more info at www.mmcmonline.org/hgm

 

Music provided by midcoast Maine's

The 220s https://www.facebook.com/The220s

 

Confirmed Speakers include:

Alysia Melnick - Attorney and Public Policy Counsel for ACLU of Maine, a key author and advocate for Maine's medical marijuana law.
http://www.aclumaine.org/staffprofiles

Dr. Dustin Sulak - Osteopathic Physician and Medical Marijuana advocate. http://www.maine-health.com/

Dr. Wendy Chapkis -  Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies at USM, author of "Dying to Get High: marijuana as medicine"
http://usm.maine.edu/sociology/wendy-chapkis

Crash Barry - Maine author, new book "Marijuana Valley" being released this Fall
http://crashbarry.com

Dave Wilkinson - Maine cannabis activist, Author of "Witchgrass: A Pipe Dream" detailing the effects of the DEA's war on drugs in a small Maine town and producer of the film "Science Vs. Stigma"
http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2011/12/science_vs_stigma_putting_a_human_face_on_the_war.php

Chris Dixon - State Coordinator 10th Amendment Center of Maine
http://undercoverporcupine.bangordailynews.com/


Workshops and Discussions Include:

- Veterans Access to Medical Marijuana

- Taxes for Small Business and Caregivers

- Medical Marijuana as Treatment for Substance Addictions

- A History of Maine's Medical Marijuana Law

- Seed Saving and Strain Development

- Making Herbal Salves, Tinctures, and Oils

- How to  Become a Medical Marijuana Caregiver

 

Sponsored by:

 

Maine Intergrative Health http://www.maine-health.com/

Maine Hydroponic Supply 50 Rockland Road  Jefferson, ME 04348  (207) 390-0857

Medicinal Mix    http://medicinalmix.com/

Intergr8 Health  http://www.integr8health.com/

Friends of the Hill  http://www.harryshill.net/

Maine Green Cross  http://mainegreencross.org      

More speakers and workshops TBA!

MSHA Postpones Ban

Medical marijuana patients in Section 8 housing will not face eviction due to their patient-status this winter!


The Maine State Housing Authority Board of Commissioners voted today in favor of a 6 month moratorium on implementing their plan that would have evicted patients who were growing, using, or in possession of their medical marijuana from all housing under MSHA jurisdiction.

Many thanks to Rep Deb Sanderson, Alysia Melnick of the ACLU of Maine, Paul T. McCarrier of MMCM, and caregivers John Stewart and Amy Green for great testimony that helped change the minds of MSHA commissioners!

Many thanks as well to patient Don LaRouche for his courage in speaking out sharing his personal story of how this change would directly affect him. His presence at the meeting had a definite effect on the commissioners.

Between now and April it is very important that other patients who would be affected by the MSHA's proposed ban speak out and share their stories so we can make sure that at the end of the moratorium, the ban does not go into effect. If you would like to share your story, please be in touch. Your full name does not have to be used.

Read more:

Maine Housing to Hold Off On Enforcing Housing Ban - BDN

Maine Housing Puts Medical Marijuana Ban on Hold - KJ

Maine Housing Delays Implementation of Medical Pot Ban - MPBN

Thanks for your support, and remember that MMCM members get free admission to Home Grown Maine on Saturday, November 10th in Portland!

 

KJ Op-Ed

http://www.kjonline.com/opinion/medical-marijuana-program-faces-uncertainty-from-new-rules_2012-08-08.html


MAINE COMPASS: Medical marijuana program faces uncertainty from new rules
Paul T. McCarrier, Hillary Lister and Alisha Melnick

Imagine that you have Crohn's disease, terminal cancer or chronic pain from a serious car accident. You'vetried all the drugs out there, but they make you nauseated, withdrawn or cause severe headaches.
When you try to stop taking them, you feel anxious and crampy and can't sleep. You're scared because friends have gotten hooked on some of these drugs, and you know someone who died from an overdose.
The one thing that allows you to eat, sleep, or function semi-normally is marijuana.
The cannabis plant has never been the cause of an overdose, and is proven to have a wide range of medical benefits with few side effects.

You've talked with your doctor, who agrees marijuana would be the best treatment for you, but clarifies that it will not be covered under any health plan. You'll have to grow it or buy it.
James is an older man who suffers from pain caused by a genetic disease. He lives in Waldo, off the grid and on limited income, so he can't afford to buy his medical marijuana.
He's been able to avoid many of the narcotics he could be prescribed by being able to grow his own marijuana.

Now the Department of Health & Human Services is proposing rules would require the fence around his plants to be 8 feet tall, with motion-sensitive lighting, more than 25 feet from a property line, with other yet undefined "security measures," making it unaffordable and functionally impossible for him to legally cultivate.

Maine has allowed medical use of cannabis since 1999 with minimal fanfare, public attention or concern. Patients worked with their doctors to get their medicine of choice, but both found the law too limiting.
In 2009, Maine citizens overwhelmingly voted to expand the medical marijuana program, creating a dispensary system, allowing more people to become caregivers for patients, and creating an optional state registry for patients.

Following the 2009 citizen's initiative, a task force was set up that was supposed to implement the changes to the law, but instead veered away from the intent of the initiative. Legislation and rules were rushed through with little public input requiring patients to register with the DHHS and doctors to disclose private medical information, removing legal protections from arrest and effectively banning outdoor growing.
The law was reformed in 2011 by LD 1296, a bill sponsored by Rep. Deb Sanderson, R-Chelsea, which restored the intent of the initiative by making registration voluntary for patients, bringing back legal protections from arrest and ensuring protected outdoor growing in an enclosed, locked facility. The bill passed with unanimous approval from the House and Senate, a rare example of bipartisan consensus.

The ACLU of Maine and the patients and caregivers who make up Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine were integrally involved in both the 2009 citizens' initiative and the 2011 law. Both were explicitly intended to protect patients who care for themselves. In a rural state such as Maine, for many, that means outdoor growing.

We've talked to many people who collected signatures for the 2009 initiative and were regularly asked whether outdoor growing would be permitted; they consistently answered yes. When we were asked by legislators, constituents and the press whether the 2011 bill would permit outdoor growing, we consistently answered yes.

It was clearly the intent of the people, the bill drafters, the legislators and the governor's office to allow patient access through outdoor cultivation.

Given the financial realities for many Mainers these days, and the fact that marijuana is not covered by health insurance (unlike pharmaceutical pills), use of nature's low-cost grow room is the only way they are able to obtain their medicine.

The proposed rule changes would cut off access to a safe, affordable treatment. Many people who benefit from the ability to grow their own medicine have been able to wean off dependence on pharmaceutical medications that were causing unwanted side effects.
Maine has become a national model on how to have a responsible, state-regulated, patient-focused program.

If the rules are enacted as written, it will go against Gov. Paul LePage's stated goal of getting people off state aid, require patients to turn to subsidized pharmaceutical medications, and place unnecessary burdens on Maine people when they can least afford it.

Paul T. McCarrier is the legislative liaison and Hillary Lister is the president of Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, the state's largest medical marijuana trade organization. Alisha Melnick is public policy counsel for ACLU of Maine.


Cannabis Education Day

To view the full size video, click here:

http://www.necn.com/pages/video?PID=xQidx_Ik8AJeSVTcpOys_p2PKY3CIRCX

Join our Mailing List

captcha