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Primary Caregivers Under Maine’s Medical Marijuana Law

Lately, in this blog, we’ve been covering the Maine Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA). This piece of legislation is relatively new, both in Maine and across the country, so some of the details are less then completely thought out. In this case, it’s understandable, because the government is trying to create new regulations for an entirely new business that has been completely illegal. However, understandable or not, that doesn’t mean that it’s not frustrating or confusing as you try to put together what you can and can’t do, with regard to medical marijuana.

Before, we touched on how this law impacts qualified patients – the people who need to use medical marijuana for ailments – by focusing on how the MMMA lets you get a prescription for medical marijuana from a doctor. In this post, we’re interested in how the MMMA treats primary caregivers.

A “primary caregiver” is someone who assists a qualified patient with their use of medical marijuana. There are no requirements to being a primary caregiver aside from being designated as one by a qualifying patient: You don’t need to be a doctor or a nurse. This allows patients to designate caregivers close to them, who best know what they need, and how to care for them.

If you get designated as a primary caregiver by a qualifying patient, you will probably need to register with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and get both a registration card, and a food establishment license. There are some people who don’t need to do either of these registrations, though, like people who are also family members of the qualified patient that designated them.

Once successfully registered as a primary caregiver, the patient’s ability to both cultivate marijuana is transferred to the caregiver. This means that patients who have a primary caregiver cannot cultivate marijuana plants on their own – only their caregiver can do this. A primary caregiver can also possess marijuana: 2.5 ounces, as well as an incidental amount of marijuana, for each patient that they are the caregiver for. Patients who have a caregiver, while they are not allowed to cultivate marijuana, are still allowed to possess the same amount of the drug as they would have, if they didn’t have a caregiver.

You can be a caregiver for up to five different qualified patients. If you’re a caregiver for more than three, though, you will be subjected to DHHS audits. Additionally, caregivers can get paid for helping patients and growing marijuana plants.

The MMMA is still a very young law – much of it is still vague, with lots of room for different interpretations. For example, the MMMA allows primary caregivers to be “reasonably compensated.” How much is that? Unfortunately, we’re still figuring out the answers to these, and many other, questions about medical marijuana.

This uncertainty makes it important to have a good attorney on your side, even if you haven’t had a run-in with law enforcement. Good criminal defense attorneys, like William T. Bly, are able to give advice that can let you avoid trouble, in the first place. Call his law office at (207) 571-8146.


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