Belfast has a very attractive shopping street which leads down to the harbor.

David Brossard

Maine Legislature Approves MMJ Expansion; Gov. Veto Expected

The Maine Senate has joined the House in passing legislation to expand the state’s medical cannabis program by increasing the number of dispensaries; allowing caregivers to serve more patients, hire employees, and run storefronts without fear of legal crackdown; and allowing more people to qualify for a medical cannabis card, the Portland Press Herald reports.

Who would be able to access the program under the new regime: Just about anyone, as medical providers would be allowed to certify a patient for any medical reason; eliminating the strict qualifying condition list. Parents with children who could benefit from medical cannabis treatment would only have to obtain one doctor recommendation instead of two under the current law.

Caregivers could use their 30-plant limits to serve as many patients as their harvest allows. Currently, registered caregivers can serve just five qualified patients at one time. They would also be allowed to set up storefronts and hire as many workers as they need – instead of just one. Those storefronts would need to employ the same security features as dispensaries.

Under the bill, caregivers would be required to submit to unannounced inspections and would allow municipalities to ban cannabis operations.

The state would license six more dispensaries; bringing the total to 14. The dispensaries would be allowed to operate as for-profit companies instead of their current non-profit status. Dispensaries and caregivers would also have to implement a seed-to-sale tracking system.

Gov. Paul LePage will likely veto the legislation. LePage, who currently has the recreational cannabis implementation bill on his desk, wants the recreational and medical systems to be merged and has promised to veto the recreational measure until he gets his wish. The medical cannabis bill approved by the Legislature neither merges the two programs nor increases the program tax rate.

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