Maine Medical Cannabis Program Under Attack
The preliminary draft rule set released on January 5th, 2021 is an all-out assault on the medical cannabis program in Maine. Painting in broad strokes, it seeks to criminalize and penalize business owners for minor technical errors from over regulation, and to create massive economic barriers for entry to small and new businesses. Additionally, there are many instances of general privacy violation, and even more examples of burdensome documentation requirements.
We did not fight when similar rules were proposed for Adult Use because we did not have the resources. We did not have the resources, because our businesses have been unfairly regulated in a way that kept us from being competitive with the greater market. The industry at large passed the two bills where it wanted to see change, LD1539 and LD238, just two years ago. The rules were re-written, and for the most part the playing field was leveled for small businesses, therefore creating the safest access to affordable medicine for patients. These were the rules our industry wanted and worked very hard for.
Insert the Office of Marijuana Policy at the direction of our governor (and corporate lobbyists). Who are now taking it upon themselves to throw our entire program into a tailspin, all in the name of “unifying Medical and Adult Use rules.” Something every medical cannabis stakeholder from business owners to patients to community members have said “No, we do not want the Medical Program merged with the Adult Use Program.”
Why is that? For starters, Maine has set the standard for Medical Cannabis Programs across the country. We avoided the pitfalls of some western states. Our supply is consistent. Our prices are fair. Crime has not increased. Teen cannabis use has not increased. DUI has not increased. Americans for Safe Access has consistently ranked Maine as one of the Top States for patient access to medical cannabis. Maine earned an overall “B” grade (85 out of 100) from Americans for Safe Access, the highest ranking on the organization’s state marijuana law report card. All of the traditional lies and misinformation that’s put forward by the “Drug War” proponents seeking to put cannabis in a negative light are simply inaccurate. We now have the date to prove it.
It has not been proven that increased regulation, such as Track and Trace, or Seed-to-Sale Tracking, actually improves any conditions related to the payment of taxes or black-market diversion. In fact, with the changing of rules with LD1539, the black market in Maine has virtually evaporated. Now Mainers with any condition may get a medical card, and they may also visit one of Maine’s 250 cannabis stores, which are both safe and reliable.
If there is going to be any scale change of the medical program rules, it should start with merging caregiver and dispensary licenses to create a level playing field for ALL medical businesses. Then as an industry we can work together to navigate the need, if any, for further regulation. The first step is that this draft rule set is thrown in the trash.
Please take some time to review the following statement from Maine Craft Cannabis Association, which provides greater detail on the specific issues, as well as what you can do about it:
Call to Action for Maine’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program
RED ALERT! Access to cannabis from the provider of your choice is under assault. The Office of Marijuana Policy released an 81-page ‘update’ to the MMMP Rules that would destroy a program that has created so many jobs, supported Mainers’ health, and provided a resiliency to our state’s economy during a pandemic. We’ll have more opportunities to provide feedback to the OMP, but you have until Sunday, Jan 10th to submit ‘informal’ reactions to the rule. Major takeaways include:
- High hurdles to obtaining a medical card;
- At least a 50% increase in the cost of product for you;
- Tens of thousands of patients left with only pharmaceutical options or the absurdly overpriced and product-limited Adult Use market;
- Hundreds of small businesses shuttered overnight with their families’ and employees’ livelihoods ruined and no other jobs to turn to;
- Local donations, spending, and investment from those businesses drying up overnight, sucking the life out of rural areas with little else to support their economies;
- A dramatic decline in patient choice and a dramatic increase in healthcare cost for those without insurance;
- Affordable access a thing of the past as providers close who can’t afford the $50,000-$500,000 it will take for them to fit into this new corporatist scheme;
- …and a collapse in state tax revenue as cultivators are forced back into the underground market.
SO, what can you do?
- First, you can read the proposed rules, link in bio;
- Second, you can write your local Senator or House Representative and tell them your concerns;
- Third, you can write to the Health & Human Services Committee that oversees the MMMP and share concerns.
- Lastly, you can send us your email or a DM if you’d like to get more involved and contribute/volunteer/learn more about the process still ahead of us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like some help organizing your thoughts, here are some suggestions, and you can submit early feedback to the OMP using the link in our bio! Please consider including:
- Delete the requirement for a medical provider to be a specialist in the area of medicine they are certifying you for;
- Remove any new packaging rules that would contribute to unnecessary and terrible waste clogging Maine’s streets, waterways, trails, and dumps;
- Remove language prohibiting discounts and samples for patients;
- Remove the copied & pasted application process from the Adult Use program that lets the OMP weed out any business that doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend to comply;
- Remove labeling requirements that treat cannabis worse than toxic waste;
- Remove purchase limits for patients copied from the Adult Use program;
- Eliminate language giving the OMP free reign to invent violations and new rules arbitrarily as they see fit;
- Explicitly allow caregiver storefronts to deliver;
- Stop involving law enforcement in the enforcement of civil issues, which is only perpetuating the Drug War against Maine’s citizens;
- Allow caregivers to raise money the same way that Adult Use licensees are able to;
- Restrict OMP tracking to sales and revenues reporting only like all other legal businesses in the state of Maine;
- Eliminate the attempt to circumvent the Legislature and introduce backdoor mandatory testing;
- Eliminate language preventing caregiver businesses from contacting their opted-in customers via text and email.
- Eliminate language preventing caregivers from operating out of their homes and requiring a physical storefront!