Maine Bill to Expand Medical Marijuana Program Passes House, 113-32

AUGUSTA, Maine (June 3, 2015) – Last Thursday, the Maine House passed a bill that would expand on the state’s current medical marijuana program, further blocking the federal prohibition on the same.

Introduced in January by Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland), Legislative Document 23 (LD23) “removes from the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act any limitation on the type of medical conditions for which patients may be certified by their physicians to engage in the medical use of marijuana.” It passed the state House on May 28 with a 113-32 vote.

In 1999, Maine passed the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act, which started the process of nullifying in practice the unconstitutional federal prohibition within the state by authorizing the plant’s use in limited, medical situations. LD23 builds upon this nullification in a narrow but important way.

LD23 is not the only marijuana reform that was introduced this year in Maine. LD35 would increase patient access to medical marijuana while LD1401 would legalize marijuana fully and open a retail market for the plant in the state. This indicates that there is ample opportunity for Maine legislators to act immediately to sensibly and compassionately regulate marijuana.

The best thing about measures such as these is that they are completely lawful, and there is little if anything the feds can do to stop them in practice.

The passage of this bill would be a step in the right direction for cannabis rights advocates in the state of Maine. The top-down federal mandates that have failed for so many decades are being replaced by a more compassionate, decentralized approach that is responsive to the needs of the people. 

Activists should embrace this tremendous opportunity to make medical marijuana more accessible to patients. The end of the federal drug war is on its way whether detractors like it or not. A measure such as LD23 would help us toward that inevitable goal.

Now that it has passed the state House, LD23 moves to the state Senate for further consideration.  Should it pass, it will be sent to Gov. LePage’s desk.