Maine's New Medical Marijuana Law

by Mike Reynolds

 

           In 1999, Mainers were one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana. The law was additionally amended in 2002 and 2010, the latter as a result of a referendum calling for an expansion in access and in covered conditions. What Mainers got was a servely flawed law that imposed arcane prohibitions and restrictions on patients.  Maine’s new  law, Public Law 407, largely addresses many of the problems that previous laws had created. The law  took effect in late September.
 

           A coalition of activists from around the state, who called themselves the “Affirmative Defense Action Coalition,” worked with legislators in both political parties, along with the ACLU of Maine, to pass PL 407. The passage of PL 407 is significant for a  couple of reasons. It is the only state medical marijuana law that actually expanded access to cannabis to pass this year in spite of   pressure from federal officials. It was also one of the only bills to pass with an unpaid group of citizens pushing for it's passage.

 

           Primarily, PL 407 restores the patient's right to a legal defense in court if they had more than 2.5 ounces in their possession. Additionally, the need for qualifying patients to register with the state is gone, as is the need to register with the state if you are growing cannabis for yourself or a family or household member. If you want to grow for another patient, you still need to register with the state as a caregiver. The legal certification for a patient returns to a written certification form which lasts for a year, and the form no longer requires a patient to disclose what condition is being treated with the use cannabis.

 

            PL 407 also prohibits search, seizure, arrest, prosecution, or penalty of patients or caregivers who have current legal proof of their status as a qualifying patient. Access to cannabis as treatment for minors is heightened under the new law, which fixes some bureaucratic nightmares of some terminally ill minors being unable to access the drug for treating their illness.  New conditions can be added by public petition, but there are still concerns with that practice in draft form. It will be important to see how the rules process affects this process, as well as other draft proposals, such as proposed limits on numbers of non-vegetating plants. The rules hearing has not been officially scheduled.

 

Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine has hosted informational sessions on the new law across the state. Below is a video of the majority of the information session hosted at the Common Ground Fair on September 23rd in Unity.