SENATOR LACHOWICZ APPEALS REJECTION OF BILL TO PERMIT CANCER PATIENTS TO ACCESS MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Bill would permit the use of non-smoked forms of medical marijuana for authorized patients in hospice and nursing homes
AUGUSTA – Democratic Senator Colleen Lachowicz of Waterville is appealing the exclusion of her bill to make it easier for authorized patients in hospice and nursing homes to use non-smoked forms of medical marijuana from consideration by the full Legislature.
“Cancer patients and others with serious medical conditions who have been prescribed medical marijuana should not be denied access to their treatment,” said Senator Lachowicz, a social worker and a member of the Health and Human Services Committee. “There are currently patients who need to go into a nursing facility, but are avoiding it due to fear that they’ll lose access to the medicine that helps them most.”
In December 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services implemented major rule changes to Maine’s Medical Marijuana Program (MMMP). The new rules require a hospice or nursing facility to register with the State as a caregiver providing medical marijuana if any patient in the facility wishes to use medical marijuana.
Many facilities receive federal funding, and fear that registering as a provider of marijuana would threaten that funding. In addition, the new regulations impose additional administrative burdens, such as require two staff people, who must register with the MMMP, to be on site if a patient wishes to have access to his or her medicine.
“The goal of this legislation is not to expand Maine’s medical marijuana program, or require facilities to allow the use of medical marijuana,” continued Senator Lachowicz. “It simply makes the option available, and ensures that Maine people whose physicians have recommended marijuana for medical use can safely access that medicine when they are most in need.”
For the second regular session of the legislature, bills that go before the entire Legislature must first be approved by the Legislative Council, a committee comprised of the ten legislative leaders. The Legislative Council met last month and approved slightly more than 100 bills.
The Legislative Council will meet on November 21 to review appeals.