Changes Could Make Medicinal Marijuana More Accessible In Maine
Lawmakers in Augusta are considering several changes to Maine’s medical marijuana law. Many of those changes could provide more access to marijuana as medicine.Members of the Health and Human Services Committee heard proposals on six bills that would significantly alter Mainers access to medical marijuana.The biggest change would add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and drug addiction to the approved conditions that marijuana could be prescribed to treat.Currently in Maine doctors can only recommend marijuana for the following nine conditions:* Cancer* Glaucoma* Hepatitis C* ALS* Crohn’s Disease* Agitation of Alzheimer’s Disease* Nail-Patella Syndrome* Intractable PainAt a press conference Tuesday, operators of Maine’s medical marijuana dispensaries said they’re supporting the bill, especially a provision that would let doctors prescribe marijuana whenever they see fit.”I don’t go to my legislator to ask them what to take for my chronic back pain. I go to my physician. It reinforces the primacy of that doctor, patient relationship,” Becky DeKeuster of Wellness Connection told reporters.DaKeuster and other representatives from dispensaries said they’re primary objective was putting patients needs first, but DaKeuster refused to answer questions about recent sanctions handed down against Wellness Connection for using pesticides on their marijuana. Members of the Maine Medical Association say there’s simply not enough research to expand the list of conditions that doctors should treat with marijuana, especially opiate addiction.”They feel very strongly that there is not enough evidence to justify medical marijuana and that marijuana is very addictive in and of itself,” said Jessa Barnard of the MMA. “And you don’t want to be prescribing a harmful addictive substance to treat another substance abuse disorder.”The Medical Marijuana Caregivers Association of Maine support 5 of the 6 measures, especially the proposed expansion of approved conditions. Paul McCarrier of the MMCAM says they fully support a proposal that would let caregivers have an unlimited number of registered patients, removing the current restriction of 5 patients.”After the issues with Wellness Connection and their pesticide and fungicide use, we’ve seen more and more patients wishing to have the high quality and locally grown medicine produced by caregivers.”There’s now more than 1,000 licensed medical marijuana caregivers in Maine. That number jumped substantially after the sanctions handed down against Wellness Connection as trust for the dispensaries has diminished.Removing caregivers patient restrictions is not a bill the dispensaries have taken an official position on, but they’re leaning against it.”We do have some concerns because it appears to be an unregulated dispensary that’s being setup by that legislation,” said Laura Harper of Mooseridge Associates, who was representing the dispensaries at Tuesday’s press conference.Other proposals receiving lukewarm receptions would expand the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Maine and let caregivers sell any excess marijuana they grow to a patient, another caregiver or a registered dispensary.