5.15.2011

Maine Medical Marijuana

In Maine 61% percent of voters approved the use of medical marijuana.

The law removed state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess an oral or written "professional opinion" from their physician that he or she "might benefit from the medical use of marijuana".

Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures; glaucoma; multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; and nausea or vomiting as a result of AIDS or cancer chemotherapy.

Patients (or their primary caregivers) may legally possess no more than two and one-half ounces of usable marijuana, and may cultivate no more than six marijuana plants, of which no more than three may be mature.

Those patients who possess greater amounts of marijuana than allowed by law are afforded a "simple defense" to a charge of marijuana possession. The law does not establish a state-run patient registry.

RECIPROCITY: The law also authorizes visiting qualifying patients with valid medical marijuana identification, to engage in conduct authorized for the registered patient (the medical use of marijuana) for 30 days after entering the State, without having to obtain a Maine marijuana identification card. However, visiting qualifying patients are not authorized to obtain in Maine marijuana for medical use. Me. Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, §2423-D (2010).

AMENDMENTS: The law also requires the Dept of Health to enact rules establishing a confidential patient registry and identification card system, and allowing for the dispensing of medicinal cannabis via state-licensed nonprofit dispensaries.

The act also expands the list of qualifying illnesses for which a physician may recommend medical cannabis to include:

A. cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, agitation of Alzheimer's disease, nail-patella syndrome or the treatment of these conditions;
B. a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces intractable pain, which is pain that has not responded to ordinary medical or surgical measures for more than six months;
C. a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis; or
D. any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the department as provided.

ADDITIONAL AMENDMENTS: Signed into law 9 April 2010 authorizes the creation of up to eight nonprofit medical cannabis dispensaries – one for each of the state's public health districts. Under the measure, dispensaries may legally "acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver, transfer, transport, sell, supply or dispenses marijuana or related supplies and educational materials" to state-authorized medical marijuana patients.

The Maine Dept of Health and Human Services oversees the licensing of the facilities.

The law also requires, for the first time, that authorized patients join a confidentially state registry. Cardholding patients will not be subject to “arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner, including but not limited to, a civil penalty or disciplinary action by any business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, or denied any right or privilege,” for their possession, use, or cultivation of authorized amounts of medical cannabis. see Legislative Document

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 22, § 2383-B(5), (6) (1999) (amended 2001).

Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 22, § 2383-B(3)(e) (amended 2001) (increasing amount of marijuana a patient may posses to two and one-half ounces).

CAREGIVERS: Yes. Primary caregiver is a person providing care for the registered patient. The caregiver must be 21 years of age or older. The caregiver can never have been convicted of a disqualifying drug offense. Patients can name one or two primary caregivers. (only one person may be allowed to cultivate marijuana for a registered patient) Me. Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, §§2422; 2425 (2010).

STATE REGULATIONS: Statement of Maine's Medicinal Marijuana Law

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