This week, the Health and Human Services Committee voted to make major updates to the medical marijuana program. The final vote was 11-2, with Representative Paul Chace (R-Durham) and Chairman Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin) voting ought-not-to-pass, and submitting a minority report.

Following weeks of work, the subcommittee presented its set of recommendations to the full committee. Most of the recommendations worked out by the subcommittee were accepted without debate by the larger committee, but a few of the sticking points were further hammered out by the full committee.

The number of additional dispensary licenses was the biggest topic of discussion; the committee agreed to allow for 6 new licenses issued immediately, with the cap on dispensary licenses being lifted in January 2021. Chairman Brakey and Representative Chace voted against the bill for this reason; their minority report will not include a cap on dispensary licenses.

The updates also include:

  • The caregiver patient cap has been eliminated, but replaced with a flowering plant cap. Caregivers will also have the ability to have storefronts, which will be regulated like dispensaries.
  • Patients will no longer be required to designate a caregiver or dispensary, promoting freedom of access. Patients may also receive certification for any condition a medical provider believes would be helped by cannabis, removing the “qualifying condition” list currently in place
  • Increased municipal oversight of caregivers and dispensaries
  • Increased testing and labeling requirements for all medical marijuana products, including transitional language to authorize testing while the Department of Health and Human Services develops rules

The committee also passed a bill setting manufacturing standards, including the establishment of a manufacturing license for extraction and preparation of edibles; the bill, if it passes the full legislature and is signed by the governor, will be enacted immediately.