Public Weighs In On Proposed Changes To Maine Medical Marijuana Rules 

It was standing room only at a public hearing in Augusta Monday afternoon, where proposed changes to the rules of Maine’s Medical Marijuana Program was the topic being discussed.Hundreds of medical marijuana caregivers and patients turned out to speak out against the rule changes.At the center of the controversial proposal are changes to the outdoor growing restrictions and the definition of an enclosed, locked facility. Opponents of the changes argue that the intent of Citizens Initiative passed by Maine voters is to allow patients to affordably grow their medicinal marijuana.Some of those proposed rule changes include new security measures requiring an 8-foot fence around any caregiver’s outdoor growing operation and exterior lighting. Opponents argue those changes, if enacted, would make outdoor growing cost prohibitive to many of Maine’s caregivers.Others argue that the security measures are not only unnecessary, but will actually have an adverse effect. “The security precautions here don’t make any sense,” caregiver Jacob McClure, who had marijuana stolen from him in the past, told representatives of the DHHS Licensing and Regulatory Services who wrote the proposal. “The 8 foot fence, if you live in an inner city environment, you got neighbors everywhere, that might give you some security. An 8 foot fence where I live says ‘medical marijuana free for the taking.'”Caregivers also complained about the gray areas in the rules that they say make it hard for them to tell if they’re breaking the law. Specifically, some of the definitions of what constitutes flowering and non-flowering marijuana plants, seedlings, and other ambiguous terms which can be left up to interpretation by overzealous law enforcement officers. “This can and most likely will lead to confusion and misinterpretation between how a patient or caregiver reads the rule, and how law enforcement reads the rule,” Chelsea Republican Deb Sanderson said. “It must be clear to preserve the integrity of the program to ensure law enforcement officials have clear definitions of what is and what isn’t legal. And that we aren’t inadvertently creating a situation where cultivators misinterpretation of definitions put them at risk for criminal charges.” Some who testified even question whether the real motive behind the rule changes is to make it impossible for private caregivers to grow medicinal marijuana, thus forcing patients to go to more costly dispensaries. “Big money lobbying has found its way into this rule making process. It’s like stacking the deck. You get your deck stacked, then it doesn’t matter who deals it because it’s all stacked,” G.W. Martin of Montville told the panel. “I think we can compete on quality of product. I think we can compete on quality of marketing. I don’t think stacking the deck is the way to go. The way I was taught is if you’re playing cards, somebody’s cheating, you flip the table over.”The final decision lies with the Department of Health and Human Services Licensing and Regulatory services. You can view a complete list of the proposed rule changes by clicking on this link: