Below is my letter to Senator Michael Thibodeau, and the other republican members of the Legislative Council, regarding tomorrow's appeal of L.R. 2547. If you, or someone you know is involved in Maine's medical marijuana program, I hope you will contact your representative and urge them to support common sense laws dealing with patient and caregiver inspections as well.
Senator Michael D. Thibodeau
169 Coles Corner Rd.
Winterport, ME 04496
November 16, 2015
RE: Support for L.R. 2547
Dear Senator Thibodeau:
I am writing to urge you to vote in the affirmative for L.R. 2547 at the upcoming Legislative Council hearing on November 19. As you know, L.R. 2547, entitled “Resolve, To Clarify Inspections of Caregivers under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act,” seeks passage of laws and rules governing inspections of patients and caregivers participating in the Maine Medical Marijuana Program (MMMP).
As an attorney with experience representing clients who operate under the current MMMP laws and rules, it is my hope that you will see L.R. 2547 not as a partisan measure, but as a common sense response to an emergency. As you may know, the MMMP is plagued by legal ambiguity and gray areas. These gaps in the regulatory scheme not only expose patients and caregivers to great risk, but also burden Maine’s court system, law enforcement agencies, and DHHS with time-consuming and expensive prosecution and litigation. Many patients and caregivers face criminal charges for civil rule violations. These criminal charges are frequently – but not always – dismissed outright. Legislative and administrative guidance dealing with alleged violations of the MMMP rules is urgently needed to prevent further legal uncertainty and wasted taxpayer dollars.
In addition to guidance regarding the correct response to rule violations, laws and rules governing complaint inspections of patients and caregivers by DHHS are sorely needed. Presently, there are no laws or rules that dictate under what circumstances DHHS may conduct inspections, the authority and responsibilities of the inspectors, or the correct administrative response in the event an inspection uncovers a rule violation. Frequently these warrantless inspections by DHHS result in referrals to law enforcement and criminal charges against patients and caregivers. Again, these charges are often, but not always, dismissed.
The net result of these unregulated inspections and misguided criminal proceedings is a waste of time and money for all parties. Worst of all, this uncertainty imposes unnecessary risk, fear, and hardship upon patients who desperately need medical marijuana to treat debilitating conditions, and upon those who care for them.
Therefore, I strongly urge you to vote in favor of L.R. 2547 at the upcoming Legislative Council hearing.