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Maine House and Senate Approve Medical Marijuana Changes

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Both the Maine House and Senate approved a bill that allows caregivers to expand their operations. Caregivers would be permitted to sell as much as 30-percent of their excess harvests to dispensaries and other caregivers. They’d also be able to have more than one employee.

But this all comes at a price of facing more regulation, The Times Record reports.  Caregivers would have to participate in the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system and would be subjected to random, unannounced inspections.

Caregivers would enjoy the major perk of being able to open a retail store. They’d act like a mini dispensary. They’d only be able to serve medical marijuana patients and would still be restricted to only 30 plants. Their mini dispensaries would only be allowed to be in cities and towns where medical marijuana storefronts are permitted.

Senator Roger Katz ensured that the municipality opt-in requirement for a mini dispensary to be operational was included in the legislation.

Senator Roger Katz said, “This gives more clarity to municipalities, patients and medical marijuana providers on what they can and can’t do. There is going to be a single set of rules if someone wants to set up a marijuana store.”

It took lawmakers several months to come to an agreement on the legislation.

If an unauthorized marijuana store is operating without permission from a municipality, they are allowed to shut them down.

Other changes were also made to the state’s medical marijuana program:

  • No more specified qualifying medical conditions list
  • Doctors can prescribe for substance abuse disorders, but a recovery plan must also be in place
  • First time certifications must be done via in-person visit
  • Dispensaries would permitted to be “for profit” instead of nonprofit only
  • Six new dispensaries could open in the next 3 years
  • Dispensaries can add 7,000-sqft of growing space every 24 months

Changes to processing and manufacturing are also taking place, including:

  • Hazardous chemical manufacturing license to be made available
  • An additional state certification for those extracting elements from marijuana plants
  • Two types of manufacturing licenses
  • Third-party state licensed engineer sign-off on all aspects of the manufacturing process (extraction method, equipment and the facility itself)

The bill is awaiting Governor LePage’s signature.