Governor Paul LePage recently suggested abolishing Maine’s medical marijuana program – a program that was approved by a majority of voters on two separate occasions.
In a December 15 radio interview, Gov. LePage said that he sees “no need” to continue to implement a separate medical cannabis program in Maine when adult use becomes legally regulated. “Why do we need medical marijuana?” he asked. “We’ve got to get rid of medical marijuana.”
Tell the Governor ‘no.’
Tens of thousands of Mainers have grown to rely on this program for safe, above ground access to a substance that provides them with symptomatic relief. It is unfair to ask them to switch from their trusted providers to new retailers who may have little or no experience providing for patients’ needs.
Further, many of these patient populations use cannabis to treat chronic conditions, whereas adult non-patient users may only consume cannabis intermittently. It is inappropriate to subject these patients to the litany of taxes associated with retail cannabis. Other medicines are not subject to such taxes and those patients explicitly using cannabis as a medicine should not be forced to pay inflated retail prices.
Finally, many patients utilize niche products, such as marijuana-infused salves and tinctures high in cannabinoids other than THC – the primary mood-altering component in cannabis. It is questionable whether retailers catering to the adult use market will continue to produce or provide these specialized products and formulations, potentially leaving patients out in the cold.
Ultimately, patients’ motivations for accessing cannabis and the type of cannabis they seek to obtain are very different than that of non-patients. As a result, NORML urges Governor LePage to keep the existing medical marijuana program in place while simultaneously working to implement the state’s new adult use regulations swiftly and in accordance with the will of the majority of Maine voters.