Maine tries again to enact major overhaul of medical marijuana rules
A legislative panel recommended a sweeping overhaul of Maine’s medical marijuana program on Wednesday that would allow six new dispensaries above the eight in current law and end the cap on them completely in 2021.
The proposal endorsed by the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee would be the most major overhaul of the medical program since it was established by Maine voters in 2009 but has shrunk since the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016.
Now, Mainers with a doctor’s certification to use marijuana to treat certain conditions or symptoms can buy medical marijuana at eight state-licensed marijuana dispensaries, through individual caregivers allowed to serve five patients or grow marijuana for their own consumption.
But Maine’s program has constantly struggled with the regulatory balance between dispensaries and the state’s roughly 3,000 caregivers, who often escape state scrutiny after they’re up and running because they often grow in home facilities spread out across the state.
Data from the Marijuana Policy Project and the state also show that the number of patients in the program shrank from more than 51,000 to just under 42,000 by the end of 2017, which the industry has blamed on legalization and the fact that the state hasn’t set up a commercial system for recreational marijuana.