Medical cannabis plants housed in grow cages inside of an indoor grow.

Sarah Climaco

Maine’s New MMJ Rules Permit Surprise Caregiver Inspections

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services released new rules governing how the state will oversee medical cannabis caregivers in the state, allowing unannounced inspections and rolling out a plant-to-patient tracking system, the Portland Press Herald reports. The new rules, which are set to take effect on Feb. 1, drew the ire of caregivers leading to one lawyer calling the new rules “a big invasion of privacy for small caregivers growing in their home.”

“It means that they have to be ready to open their door, at any time of the day or night, because they are growing medicine for sick people,” said Matt Dubois, a Bangor-area attorney who represents cannabis businesses. “That can make every knock at the door feel very intimidating, make them feel like criminals when they’re not.”

Under the current regime, the state can only inspect caregivers if they receive a complaint; but the caregivers have the right to refuse immediate entry and plan to reschedule a visit when they have an attorney present, Dubois said, adding that the new rules do suggest that officials will give caregivers a day notice before the inspection. The rules also require that caregivers fill out so-called “trip tickets” to document the movement of cannabis from a grow site to wherever they dispense the medicine to a patient. Under current rules, only dispensaries are required to fill out these tickets.

The new rules also prohibit telemedicine examinations for medical cannabis patients, which Dubois said will make it harder for rural Maine patients to access the program.

In Maine, medical cannabis patients can receive their medicine from either the state’s eight licensed dispensaries or from the 3,200 licensed caregivers. There are currently 50,000 registered patients, which has climbed 36 percent year-over-year, the report says.

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