Maine voters passed a referendum expanding the state’s decade-old medical cannabis law. Voters said that they wanted to, in the words of the ballot measure, “change the medical marijuana laws to allow treatment of more medical conditions and to create a regulated system of distribution.”
In addition to establishing non-profit dispensaries to provide medical marijuana to patients with a doctor’s approval, the referendum also established a statewide ID card system to protect patients from arrest and added chronic pain to the list of authorized conditions.
A state taskforce, established by the governor soon after voters approved the referendum, is responsible for implementing the new law. Unlike many states that provide for voter initiatives, in Maine, state officials have the power to reword the law from its original form.
Officials say they want to create strict guidelines to prevent abuse before it takes effect early next summer.
The governor’s taskforce will determine how the drug is dispensed, establish quality control guidelines, and balance confidentiality with police oversight. But officials are struggling to estimate how many people will sign up with the program and how many dispensaries should operate.