AUGUSTA — A measure introduced by Rep. Lynne Williams (D-Bar Harbor) that gives Maine’s small medical marijuana growers and caregivers a greater say over any new rules generated by the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) became law on July 1.
LD 1242 freezes Maine’s current medical marijuana rules, adds legislative oversight to future rule changes and creates more consultation with local caregivers and patients. The measure also initiates a study on the effects of potential rule changes and creates a process to review potential consultant hires by OMP. In addition, LD 1242 eliminates the requirement that registered caregivers, registered dispensaries, marijuana testing facilities and manufacturing facilities complete an annual audit of business transactions conducted by a third party.
“Today is a great day for Maine’s caregivers and their patients,” said Williams, an attorney and longtime medical marijuana advocate. “This law protects both Maine’s medical marijuana patients and local trusted caregivers and allows them to thrive. It prioritizes smaller, locally owned facilities over larger out-of-state corporations and gives Maine people a greater say over a medicine that has helped so many. I am grateful to everyone who fought so hard to build the overwhelming support we needed to get this legislation enacted.”
The Legislature delivered strong bipartisan votes in June to advance Williams’ bill. The vote in the House was 117-25, and the Senate advanced the bill by unanimous consent, suggesting veto-proof margins in both chambers.
“This moratorium is a huge win for medical marijuana caregivers and their patients. It will allow stakeholders to have greater input in the innovative program they built from the ground up and ensure it continues to work for Maine people,” said Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Allagash). “I’m grateful to the leadership of Rep. Williams, Sen. Hickman, the patients and advocates who fought to preserve
the integrity of Maine’s medical marijuana program for both the caregivers and the Mainers who rely on their services.”
During its public hearing, Williams’ bill received supportive testimony from organizations like the Maine Cannabis Coalition, the Maine Craft Cannabis Association and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.
“Maine’s medical cannabis patients and cannabis farmers represent decades of experience in dealing with the therapeutic use of cannabis,” said Sen. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop), who serves on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, the legislative committee that oversees medical marijuana policy. “It behooves us as a Legislature to more deeply seek their input into how best to shape and strengthen this program for the benefit of the Maine people and rural economic development.”
Because LD 1242 was passed as an emergency measure, it went into effect immediately upon becoming law.
Williams, a member of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, is serving her first term in the Maine House and represents Bar Harbor, Lamoine and Mount Desert.