Update: On Tuesday, February 28, a special committee — the 17-member Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation — charged with facilitating Maine’s transition into a legal marijuana marketplace will hold a meeting to hear public comments on the process as well as to review the dozens of marijuana-related bills pending in the Legislature.
Governor Paul LePage recently suggested abolishing Maine’s medical marijuana program – a program that was approved by a majority of voters on two separate occasions.
Tens of thousands of Mainers have grown to rely on this program for safe, above ground access to a substance that provides them with symptomatic relief. It is unfair to ask them to switch from their trusted providers to new retailers who may have little or no experience providing for patients’ needs.
Further, many of these patient populations use cannabis to treat chronic conditions, whereas adult non-patient users may only consume cannabis intermittently. It is inappropriate to subject these patients to the litany of taxes associated with retail cannabis. Other medicines are not subject to such taxes and those patients explicitly using cannabis as a medicine should not be forced to pay inflated retail prices.
Finally, many patients utilize niche products, such as marijuana-infused salves and tinctures high in cannabinoids other than THC – the primary mood-altering component in cannabis. It is questionable whether retailers catering to the adult use market will continue to produce or provide these specialized products and formulations, potentially leaving patients out in the cold.
Ultimately, patients’ motivations for accessing cannabis and the type of cannabis they seek to obtain are very different than that of non-patients. As a result, NORML urges Governor LePage to keep the existing medical marijuana program in place while simultaneously working to implement the state’s new adult use regulations swiftly and in accordance with the will of the majority of Maine voters.