On November 19, a key legislative request, L.R. 2547, sponsored by Rep. Henry E.M. Beck (D-Waterville), will be up for vote by the Legislative Council. The measure, entitled "Resolve, To Clarify Inspections of Caregivers under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act," seeks to require the legislature and DHHS to clarify and pass laws and rules governing DHHS' inspection and complaint process for patients and caregivers. The request, which failed by one vote to pass the Legislative Council in September, is being appealed by Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine (MMCM).
DHHS has drawn criticism for initiating inspections of patients and caregivers without a clear legislative mandate or set of rules governing the inspections. The Department has contracted with the Maine Sheriffs' Association to conduct the warrantless inspections, which are characterized by inspectors as "knock and talks."
At present, there is no set of rules providing for or governing the inspections. Patients and caregivers are not legally required to allow inspectors to enter their premises, though many do so voluntarily. The lack of written inspection or complaint procedures has led to significant confusion and concern among patients and caregivers regarding the rights and responsibilities of all involved.
The lack of a set of rules for inspections and complaints has also led to confusion for law enforcement agents regarding the appropriate response to complaints against, or rule violations by patients and caregivers. This confusion has led to the seizure of plants and medicine by law enforcement agents who have identified simple DHHS rule violations. These seizures are sometimes, but not always accompanied by criminal charges. Even where these charges are dismissed, they result in significant wasted time and expense for regulators, regulated parties, and the courts.
If MMCM's appeal of L.R. 2547 is successful, a bill will be introduced to require implementation of sorely needed inspection and complaint procedures. These procedures will reduce uncertainty and create a more predictable regulatory environment for patients and caregivers.
What You Can Do
The bill needs a majority vote to pass through the 10-member Legislative Council. Phone calls or letters to your representatives - especially Republicans on the Legislative Council - can mean the difference between success and failure. You can use this website to determine who your representative is, and find his or her contact information.
Call your representatives before the November 19 vote and ask them to vote yes for L.R. 2547, titled "Resolve, To Clarify Inspections of Caregivers under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act." Tell them in your own words why rules clarifying the complaint and inspection process are important to you.
Because the previous failed vote was along party lines, it will be particularly impactful if Republican members of the Legislative Council can be persuaded to support the measure. The current Legislative Council members are:
President Michael D. Thibodeau, Chair (Republican)
Speaker Mark W. Eves, Vice-chair (Democrat)
Senator Garrett P. Mason, Senate Majority Leader (Republican)
Senator Andre E. Cushing, Senate Assistant Majority Leader (Republican)
Senator Justin L. Alfond, Senate Minority Leader (Democrat)
Senator Dawn Hill, Senate Assistant Minority Leader (Democrat)
Representative Jeffrey M. McCabe, House Majority Leader (Democrat)
Representative Sara Gideon, House Assistant Majority Leader (Democrat)
Representative Kenneth W. Fredette, House Minority Leader (Republican)
Representative Eleanor Espling, House Assistant Minority Leader (Republican)