WVII reached out to Eastern Maine Medical Center and Penobscot Community Health Care and asked if their doctors would be issuing certifications if the bill is approved by the full legislature, and spoke with one Bangor caregiver about his thoughts on the proposed changes.
The bill, LD 238, amends the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act to allow doctors to write medical marijuana recommendations for any medical condition.
It also allows caregivers to have more than five patients, to have more than one employee and to sell from retail locations. The number of dispensaries, currently limited to eight, would grow to 14 and non-profit restrictions would be lifted.
The new rules would also allow patients to shop around, instead of being tied to one dispensary or caregiver.
“What we're proposing is: let's just let the doctor, a doctor, decide if the person has a condition that would benefit from medical cannabis or not. Why do we need government bureaucrats standing in the way there,” said Sen. Eric Brakey, co-chair of the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee.
Brakey said the new rules are designed to streamline and reform the industry, enhance patient care and prevent diversion.
Even so, the leaders of two Bangor health care facilities say not enough research has been done on the medical benefits of the herb.
“The reason why we don't allow the usage within the medical center or any of our practices is simply that it is unregulated,” Dr. James Jarvis, vice president of Eastern Maine Medical Center.
“PCHC is a federally qualified health center and because our liability coverage is through the federal tort claims act we're really covered by federal law and we're not really allowed to write certificates for medical marijuana,” Dr. Noah Nesin of Penobscot Community Health Care.
The new rules will help caregivers, according to Chris Jones of Cannabis Caveman.
They will help by “allowing caregivers to have more access to patients, allowing them to make this a viable business, kind of allowing them to come out of the shadows a little bit and succeed.,” Jones said.
The final draft of the bill is expected to be presented to the house later this month or in early April.