Maine Still Struggling With New Medical Marijuana Rules


Photo: Bangor Metro

‚ÄčMaine’s efforts to provide approved patients with safe, legal access to medical marijuana continued Monday in the State House, where health officials are trying to fine-tune the rules and procedures. Two months ago, Gov. John Baldacci signed a bill into law that creates eight licensed medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state, along with a state registry of patients authorized to use and possess cannabis.

Some patients, however, say the registration fees required to enroll in the system are too expensive and the amounts allowed are too low, reports A.J. Higgins at The Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

Under Maine’s medical marijuana law, patients are allowed up to 2.5 ounces every 15 days to provide relief from pain and nausea. But patients are sometimes forced to choose between using all the herb quickly for full relief for a short period of time, or a limited amount over a longer period of time that does not fully relieve their symptoms.
“I’m being told, as are all the medical marijuana patients, that we can only have minimal relief,” said Rebecca Pickett, who sustained permanent injuries in a skiing accident. “Inevitably, my two-and-a-half ounces won’t be enough to last me an entire 15 days.”
“It’s insulting that we have been diagnosed with a debilitating disease or condition that quite obviously is serious and we’re pretty much being told that we have to cap how much pain we can suffer from because we only have a miniscule amount of medication,” Pickett said.
Adequate amounts of marijuana, the costs of enrolling in the patient registry, and confusion over caregiver documentation were among the top concerns aired during a rule-making hearing conducted by the state Department of Health and Human Services on Monday.
The hearing is part of the process to refine the law, which is scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2011. As passed by the Legislature, the law requires patients to pay $100 to register with the state, and also requires caregivers to pay $300 annually in state fees for each patient for whom they provide marijuana.

Maine residents have until June 17 to submit written comments to the state on implementation of the new registry and dispensary system, according to Catherine M. Cobb, director of the Division of Licensing & Regulatory Services for DHHS.