Along with Alaska, California and several other states, Maine allows its residents to use marijuana and cannabis for both recreational and medical purposes. Additionally, it has one of the simplest and easiest procedures for obtaining a medical marijuana card.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Maine since 1999, making it one of the first states to do so. The state of Maine also has a well-developed system of medical marijuana dispensaries.
Also, the residents are allowed to grow marijuana plants for personal use. Let’s take a closer look at the status of medical marijuana in Maine.
Maine was one of the first states to outlaw cannabis back in 1913. Cannabis remained illegal in the inter-war period, as well as after WWII. However, in 1976, Maine became the second state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of the drug. But it was still illegal for patients to use medical marijuana in Maine.
In 1999, Maine became one of the first states to legalize the use of medical marijuana. Ballot Question 2 was passed with 62% of the votes for and 38% against. In 2016, Maine passed the Marijuana Legalization Act which legalizes and regulates the recreational use of marijuana.
Similar to other states with established medical marijuana programs, Maine requires patients to be diagnosed with at least one severe, debilitating or chronic disease or condition to qualify for a medical marijuana card.
The list of diseases and conditions includes severe nausea, HIV, seizure disorders, Chron’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, severe muscle spasms, cachexia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, chronic pain, glaucoma, cancer, and hepatitis C (if it’s active). Patients with chronic pain can qualify only if the pain hasn’t responded to the standard methods and therapy for over six months.
Obtaining the Medical Marijuana Card
In order to obtain the state medical marijuana card, patients first have to be checked by their physician and diagnosed with at least one debilitating and chronic disease from the list. Both the patient and the physician have to demonstrate a bona fide relationship, so obtaining the card can’t be the only purpose of the relationship.
After the examination and the establishment of a qualifying diagnosis and the verification of the medical records, the doctor will register the patient with the MMMP (Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program) and print their certification.
If rejected by their primary physician, residents of Maine might decide to visit a dedicated MMJ doctor. Patients who decide to do so also have to bring copies of their medical records in order to prove their qualification for registration. Failure to do so will most likely result in a rejection.
The medical marijuana card is valid for a period of one year and has to be renewed at least 30 days before it expires. The renewal procedure is the same as the application procedure.
Obtaining Medical Marijuana
The patients who are approved for the medical marijuana card will be asked how they intend to obtain the marijuana. There are three options: growing their own marijuana, buying it from a licensed dispensary, or obtaining it from a designated caregiver.
Patients who decide to grow their own marijuana plants can have up to 6 plants in their household. The plants have to be secured, locked, and not visible from the outside. This option is recommended for patients who live in remote areas far from the licensed dispensaries.
Those who opt to buy their medical marijuana from a licensed dispensary can buy up to 2.5 ounces of the drug every two weeks. As of this writing, the licensed dispensaries are located in Ellsworth (Maine Organic Therapy), Bath (Wellness Connection), Biddeford (Canuvo, Inc.), Brewer (Wellness Connection), Auburn (Remedy Compassion Center), Gardiner (Wellness Connection), Portland (Wellness Connection), and Eagle Lake (Safe Alternatives).
Lastly, the patients can opt to obtain medical marijuana from their designated caregiver. To be able to dispense medical marijuana to the patients, the caregivers must also be registered with the state’s medical marijuana program. Primary caregivers must be 21 or over and have a clear criminal record (they’ve never been convicted of a drug offense which would disqualify them). Also, one caregiver can only care for up to 5 patients. Additionally, caregivers can grow up to 6 plants per patient in their home.
A registered patient can also have a second primary caregiver if they are minor and their first caregiver is their legal guardian or parent. Patients in hospice and nursing facilities can have a second primary caregiver as well. Lastly, incapacitated adult patients whose primary caregiver is also their legal guardian, attorney, or health care provider can have a second primary caregiver.
While patients with debilitating and chronic diseases across the US face many obstacles and problems in obtaining medical marijuana, in Maine they can grow it, buy it from a licensed dispensary, or get it from their designated caregiver.
Moreover, the procedure for obtaining a medical marijuana card in Maine is one of the simplest. The patients can be issued the card on the same day they visit their primary care physician or an MMJ doctor if they meet all the necessary criteria.