|Maine’s new medical cannabis law amendment, L.D. 1539, which overrode the governor’s veto on July 9th, went into effect on December 12, 2018. While this new language has numerous impacts on caregivers, in this notice we focus on the changes related to medical cannabis patients:
Medical Cannabis Certification
- The list of conditions for which a medical provider may certify a patient’s use of cannabis will be removed. Medical providers must identify a medical diagnosis that, in the provider’s professional opinion, may be alleviated by the therapeutic or palliative medical use of cannabis. Conditions like anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, skin conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, and others are now eligible for certification.
- Physicians’ Assistants (PAs) will be able to provide medical cannabis certifications in additions to medical doctors (MDs), doctors of osteopathy (DOs) and nurse practitioners (NPs).
- If a patient does not have a primary medical provider (PCP), an initial visit for medical cannabis certification must be performed in-person.
- Assisted living and residential care facilities, in addition to hospice and nursing facilities, will be allowed to enact policies permitting the facility to house and assist patients with medical use of cannabis.
Cannabis Access via Caregivers
- Caregivers are able to assist an unlimited number of patients.
- Most patients will no longer be required to designate a caregiver or dispensary.
- A patient who is under 18 years old, a patient who is receiving cannabis in a primary or secondary school, a patient in a long-term care facility that is administering the patient’s cannabis medicine, or a patient visiting from another state will still be required to designate a caregiver or dispensary in order to obtain medical cannabis.
- A designated caregiver for a patient who is a student in an elementary or high school, and who is not the student’s parent or guardian, will be allowed to deliver and administer medical cannabis for the patient on school property, as long as the caregiver complies with school policy and passes a Department of Education background check which includes fingerprinting.
- Patients can possess up to 8 pounds of “harvested” cannabis. The definition of “harvested” includes cannabis concentrate and products.
- “Mature marijuana plant” is defined as any flowering female cannabis plant, removing the previous requirement the plant be “harvestable.”
- “Immature plant” is defined as a nonflowering plant that measures more than 24 inches from the base of the main plant stalk to the most distant point of the plant’s leaf stems or branches.
- Patients may cultivate up to a total of 6 mature cannabis plants, 12 immature cannabis plants and unlimited seedlings.
- Two or more qualifying patients who are members of the same household and cultivating their own cannabis plants may share one cultivation area.
- Caregivers, dispensaries, and patients are allowed to give plants to patients as long as there is no remuneration. “Remuneration” is defined to mean a donation or monetary payment received directly or indirectly by a person in exchange for goods or services as part of a transaction in which marijuana or marijuana products are transferred or furnished by that person to another person.
While the new language includes several compromises and may create new challenges in the medical cannabis industry, it clearly benefits medical cannabis patients by allowing medical providers to treat any condition, encouraging free market practices, and allowing patients to harvest enough outdoor cannabis for a year’s supply.
I’m grateful for Catherine Lewis and the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, the countless activists, legislators and others who worked together to make Maine’s medical cannabis law the best in the country. In the coming months we expect The Department of Administrative and Financial Services to adopt rules regarding this update to the law, including the approval of cannabis processing and testing facilities.
In the meanwhile, Integr8 Health is excited for the freedom to treat pain that has not failed conventional therapy, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, skin conditions, and much more. We warmly accept your referrals of friends and family that could benefit from the healing powers of cannabis.
Wishing you all a bright day in this dark time of year,
Dr. Dustin Sulak and the Integr8 Health team
This summary of legal changes was created with the assistance of Hillary Lister (mainematters.net).
Full text of the law can be downloaded here: https://legislature.maine.gov/legis/bills/getPDF.asp?paper=HP1060&item=21&snum=128
Why choose Integr8 Health?
- Expert advice on how to best use cannabis to address your condition (dosage, variety, delivery method, medical interactions and more). Our great results are driven by compassionate providers with years of experience successfully treating thousands of patients.
- Compassionate, integrative healthcare. We provide so much more than cannabis certification, including other natural approaches to relieve symptoms, a safe and incredibly effective weight loss program, osteopathic and naprapathic manipulation, laser therapy for pain and inflammation, and more. Tell our scheduling staff your needs so we can be sure to get you in with the provider best suited to help you achieve your health goals.
- We support you by collaborating with your other providers, making referrals, writing letters and providing testimony in legal situations. We do whatever it takes to help you, because we care. And we keep you updated on the quickly changing legal landscape in Maine