6/24/2011 – Governor Paul LePage signed a new law today expanding privacy protections for medical cannabis patients in Maine.
“I am pleased that the Legislature has voted to move the law closer to the initiated bill that was enacted by the voters,” said Governor Paul LePage in a statement today. “I am proud to a sign a bill that protects patient privacy and respects the will of the voters.”
Maine voters approved the compassionate use law on a ballot measure in 1999.
The Maine Civil Liberties Union issued a press release today with a statement from the law’s sponsor:
“Researching this program for the last 7 months has been quite an education,” said Representative Deborah Sanderson (R-Chelsea), primary sponsor of the bill. “I’ve read countless case studies on the benefits of marijuana for many conditions. What has been the most informative and moving however, has been speaking to the patients themselves. Folks who suffer chronic debilitating pain and have used opiates, often for months, are seeing better pain management results without the highly addictive results that opiates often have.”
The bill makes registration optional for patients and some caregivers and eliminates the requirement that patients disclose their specific medical condition to the state. The law also mandates more effective processes for adding approved medical conditions, improves the procedure for minor patient access and prevents municipalities from instituting regulations more restrictive than State Law. Importantly, patients, caregivers and dispensary employees acting under the law will be protected from arrest, prosecution and discrimination.
“This gets the state out of the business of a patient’s health and puts it back in the hands of those patients and their physicians here in Maine,” said Leavitt.
National NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano, a medical marijuana policy expert, commented, “At the same time when lawmakers in many other states are enacting impossibly restrictive measures, Maine lawmakers have elected to instead significantly open patients’ access to medical marijuana under the law.”
Here is a link to the full executive summary.
Chris Goldstein is a respected marijuana reform advocate. As a writer and radio broadcaster he has been covering cannabis news for over a decade. Questions? [email protected]