On Tuesday, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed SB 339, a bill that authorizes rulemaking by the Department of Health and Human Resources. The final version of the bill included an amendment adding “dry leaf or plant form” to the list of acceptable forms of medical cannabis. As a result, it appears that when dispensaries open, they will be able to sell cannabis flower to patients!
Thanks to all who contacted their legislators and helped secure this important victory. The legislature is no longer in session, so further progress on cannabis policy will have to wait until 2021. Fortunately, 2020 is an election year, so there will likely be many opportunities to replace elected officials who have opposed sensible cannabis policies with candidates who are supportive of reforms.
We will send more information on candidates’ positions in advance of the primary election, which is scheduled for May 12. Until then, please stay safe, and be sure to forward this good news to any patients you know who are waiting for legal access to medical cannabis.
LD 1539 improves Maine’s medical marijuana program for patients and industry
Today, the omnibus medical marijuana bill that was passed last spring goes into effect. The bill makes major improvements to Maine’s medical marijuana program. Among some of the changes, the legislation:
- removes the qualifying condition list so that any Mainer can use medical marijuana so long as their doctor thinks it would be helpful for them;
- eliminates the requirement that a patient must designate a caregiver or dispensary as their sole provider, allowing for more patient choice;
- adds two more dispensaries to the existing eight dispensaries and removes the cap on the dispensaries after January 1, 2021; and
- allows for caregivers to open storefront businesses.
More than two years since Maine voters legalized marijuana for adults, adult-use stores have still not opened, largely due to obstruction from departing Gov. Paul LePage. In the meantime, these changes will help improve and expand medical cannabis access, including by making it more affordable.
As for the adult-use program, the state has recently hired BOTEC, out of Washington State, to help write the rules governing commercial marijuana. A significant amount of “rulemaking” has been done at the committee level, and we hope this work is respected. We hope the new governor, Janet Mills, will work diligently to get Maine’s new program off the ground. Please send her team an email, asking for marijuana legalization to be a year one priority.
Adult-use sales are up and running in all three other states where voters legalized marijuana in 2016 — California, Nevada, and Massachusetts. In Nevada, sales began more than a year ago. Please ask Gov.-elect Mills to move forward promptly, and share this with friends and family in Maine.
Written comments can be submitted by email until 4:30 tomorrow, November 1
The Marijuana Control Board is still accepting written comments on proposed rules for on-site use, which may be submitted by email until 4:30 p.m. tomorrow, November 1. Oral comments may also be submitted at a hearing to be held on Wednesday, December 19.
A link to the state’s announcement on the public comment period is available here, and the proposed rules are available here. Those who would like to submit comments by email may direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Under the proposal, a retailer could obtain an endorsement allowing it to sell adults 21 or over up to a gram of cannabis, which could be consumed at the premises. Products containing THC or other cannabis ingredients could also be sold, in addition to non-cannabis food and non-alcoholic beverages. Concentrates would be prohibited. Significant security and access provisions would apply, but these seem reasonable, and local communities would have final say.
Adoption of the proposed rules would be a significant step forward and a solution to a pressing challenge, and it is likely these rules would provide a model for other states considering on-site use.
Please consider contributing to the discussion and submitting your comments in support, and please forward this message to those in your network!