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Maine Lawmakers Approve Sweeping Medical Marijuana Overhaul

Robert F. Bukaty
/
Maine Public

A sweeping overhaul of Maine's medical marijuana law is on its way to Republican Gov. Paul LePage. The bill makes it easier for Mainers to qualify as medical marijuana patients by removing current qualifying medical conditions such as epilepsy, cancer and multiple sclerosis.

If a doctor believes a patient can benefit from cannabis for any ailment, he or she would be able to prescribe it.

It also allows caregivers to expand their business in exchange for accepting tighter regulations by scrapping patient limits for registered caregivers.

Patients could possess up to eight pounds of harvested cannabis.

The proposal was enacted by the Legislature Tuesday during a contentious special session called to complete work that stalled in May. The bill was heavily lobbied by marijuana industry groups and crafted at the same time lawmakers labored to rewrite the adult-use marijuana law passed by voters in 2016.

The Legislature tacked on several amendments to the medical bill written by the Health and Human Services Committee earlier this year, including a provision requiring cities and towns to opt-in, or take affirmative votes, to allow retail medical shops.

Municipalities that have ready taken that step would not be required to do it again.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.