Current law allows a person who has been diagnosed by a physician as suffering from certain medical conditions to possess marijuana for medical use. This initiated bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services to issue registry identification cards to patients who qualify to possess marijuana for medical use and to their designated primary caregivers. It sets limits on the amount of marijuana that may be possessed by qualifying patients and their designated primary caregivers. It allows the establishment of nonprofit dispensaries to provide marijuana to qualifying patients and directs the Department of Health and Human Services to issue a registration certificate to a nonprofit dispensary that meets certain criteria. It changes the description of the medical conditions for which the medical use of marijuana is permitted. It directs the Department of Health and Human Services to establish application and renewal fees sufficient to pay the expenses of implementing and administering the provisions of the initiated bill.
Intent and Content
Prepared by the Office of the Attorney General
This initiated legislation repeals Maine's existing statutes regarding the medical use of marijuana and replaces them with a new law, entitled the Maine Medical Marijuana Act.
The new Act expands the list of medical conditions for which marijuana may be prescribed to include cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly known as "Lou Gehrig's disease"), Crohn's disease, agitation of Alzheimer's diseases, nail-patella syndrome, and the treatment of any of these conditions; plus any chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that causes intractable pain that has not responded to ordinary procedures for reducing pain over a period of more than six months, and any chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces severe nausea, seizures (including epileptic seizures), or severe and persistent muscle spasms, such as those associated with multiple sclerosis. The public would be able to petition the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to add other medical conditions to this list, according to rules that would be developed by DHHS.
Any person diagnosed by a doctor as having one of these medical conditions, and who, in the professional opinion of the doctor, is likely to receive palliative or therapeutic benefit for the condition or its symptoms, could qualify to possess marijuana for medical use. The patient would be issued a "registry identification card" by DHHS and authorized to possess up to two and a half ounces of usable marijuana and up to six marijuana plants, provided the plants were kept in an enclosed, locked facility. A qualifying patient could designate another person to assist them with their medical use of marijuana, provided that person was over the age of 21 and had never been convicted of a felony drug offense. This person, designated as a "primary care giver," would be issued a registry card, and would then be authorized to possess, for each qualifying patient the person was assisting, up to two and a half ounces of usable marijuana and up to six marijuana plants kept in an enclosed, locked facility. Applications by patients and caregivers for registry identification cards, and the list of persons who had been issued registry cards, would be kept confidential by DHHS.
Possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes would be prohibited on the grounds of any school (pre-school through high school), in a school bus, or in any jail or prison. Smoking of marijuana would be prohibited in any public place and on any form of public transportation. Patients would not be permitted to control or operate any motor vehicle, aircraft or motorboat while under the influence of marijuana. Employers would not be required to permit use of marijuana in the workplace or to accommodate an employee working while under the influence.
The legislation authorizes the establishment of not-for-profit organizations as "nonprofit dispensaries" to acquire, cultivate and distribute marijuana to qualifying patients for medical use, and to be designated as primary caregivers for such patients. Every dispensary would have to qualify and be registered with DHHS and would operate under regulations to be developed by DHHS. The regulations must include restrictions on who could serve as a board member, officer or employee of a dispensary, and restrictions on the amount of usable marijuana or marijuana plants that the dispensary could produce and distribute to patients. Any cultivation of marijuana by a dispensary would have to take place in an enclosed, locked facility. No dispensary could be located within 500 feet of the property line of a public or private school that was already in existence, and local governments would remain free to restrict the number of dispensaries within their city or town or to enact reasonable zoning regulations applicable to dispensaries.
The proposed law provides legal protections from prosecution for primary caregivers, qualifying patients and nonprofit dispensaries operating in compliance with the law, and also includes penalties for noncompliance with the new law and rules.
If approved, this citizen initiated legislation would take effect 30 days after proclamation of the vote.
A "YES" vote favors enactment of the initiated legislation.
A "NO" vote opposes enactment of the initiated legislation.
Do you want to change the medical marijuana laws to allow treatment of more medical conditions and to create a regulated system of distribution?