Maine was a pioneer in the medical cannabis space, legalizing marijuana for medical use more than two decades ago. Now, the state is looking to introduce a slew of changes to its medical cannabis program, changes that have been widely opposed by medical cannabis caregivers. Currently, Maine has registered an estimated 3,000 caregivers, and state regulations currently allow caregivers to grow and sell medical cannabis to registered medical marijuana patients.
The 80-page proposal that was introduced by the state would force these caregivers as well as other medical cannabis operators to electronically track their medical marijuana across the supply chain and to install 24-hour surveillance in some areas of their establishments, among other things. The changes would require registered manufacturers, dispensaries and caregivers to install tracking software, which is already used in the state’s recreational industry, onto their products and track them across the supply chain.
Developed by Metrc LLC, a Florida company that signed a six-year contract worth $540,000 with the state last year, the software would cost medical marijuana operators around $40 a month. Those operators would also be required to pay extra fees for equipment and tracking tags.
State officials have defended the requirement for tracking software, stating that a medical cannabis law passed back in 2019 mandates medical cannabis operators use this tracking software on their products. The changes are designed to align Maine’s medical marijuana program with a variety of new medical cannabis laws the state has passed in the last couple of years, say regulators from Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy. Additionally, the changes will bring the medical cannabis space closer to Maine’s recently launched but tightly regulated recreational cannabis industry.
However, public comments and a public hearing held all day Monday last week show that the proposal has very little support, especially from the state’s small medical marijuana caregivers. They say that the rules are too expensive, burdensome, and intrusive in an industry where patients still face plenty of discrimination for using medical cannabis.
The caregivers argue that they have been operating responsibly and safely since the state last updated medical cannabis rules three years ago. The high costs would lock out independent caregivers and the patients they serve as well as patients in rural, less wealthy jurisdictions. Nicoli Botti, a caregiver who testified last week, says that such patients will be forced to go back to the black market, undoing the progress the state has made in undermining the illicit market.
After the first round of public comments, regulators made some changes to the proposal, removing security requirements for caregivers operating out of their own homes and reducing the number of days caregiveres need to store footage from 45 to 30. Catherine Lewis, the board chair for the Medical Marijuana Caregivers for Maine, still isn’t impressed. Although she greatly appreciates the changes, she still finds the remaining proposals quite “disturbing.”
As the regulators in Maine seek to tighten controls on caregivers growing medical cannabis in the state, Canada-based XPhyto Therapeutics Corp. (CSE: XPHY) (OTCQB: XPHYF) (FSE: 4XT) is taking medical marijuana to a whole new level by conducting several pilot trials for drug formulations, such as a sublingual strip containing a mix of THC and CBD aimed at treating epilepsy, which is unresponsive to existing remedies.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to XPhyto Therapeutics Corp. (CSE: XPHY) (OTCQB: XPHYF) (FSE: 4XT) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/XPHYF
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