Special report by Michael Reynolds for Ability Maine
Contact your Representative and Senator today about legislation being voted on soon at the Legislative Council Appeals Meeting.
NOTE: The vote was originally scheduled for yesterday, November 21, but it was delayed, so you still have time to call! Find out who your legislators are and how to contact them at: http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/townlist.htm If the legislator representing your town IS a member of the Legislative Council,* it is very important that they hear directly from you, their constituent, about how they plan to vote at the November 21st Appeals meeting. If your legislator IS NOT a member of the Legislative Council, ask them to contact members of the Council about these bills before November 21st. Call your legislator (not too early or late in the day.) If you can talk to your legislator in person that's even better. If you are unable to speak to them directly, you can send an email, facebook message, or text message to your Representative and Senator and let them know: 1) Your name, your town, and briefly why this issue is important to you. 2) Ask your legislator to Support LR 2491, An Act Relating to Nursing Home and Hospice Patients and Medical Marijuana Use. This bill, sponsored by Senator Lachowicz of Waterville, would ensure that patients in a hospice or nursing facility could safely access doctor-recommended marijuana for medical use.
The legislation would not expand Maine's medical marijuana law. It would not require a nursing facility to allow marijuana use, but it would allow facilities the discretion on whether to and would not allow smoking in nursing facilities. It would restore the intent of Maine's patient-centered law that has been in place since 1999, by removing unnecessary restrictions created by DHHS rule changes in December 2012 that are preventing hospice and nursing facilities from allowing medical use of marijuana in any form. Before the Department changed its rules in 2012, a patient in a facility was allowed to receive doctor-recommended marijuana for medical use, in the form of tincture, edibles, inhaled through a vaporizer, or in a medicated salve, to help with pain, nausea, sleep, and other medical conditions. The rules have the greatest impact on patients going through chemotherapy or in their last weeks of life. The new rules require the hospice or nursing facility to register with the State as a medical marijuana caregiver, which threatens their ability to receive federal funding. One of the most critical needs of the Maine medical marijuana community is to ensure access to people going through chemotherapy and those at the end of life. Patients in Maine hospice and nursing facilities have been allowed to access medical marijuana since 1999, when Maine's first medical marijuana law was enacted. From the beginning, these patients have been the backbone of Maine's medical marijuana legislative heritage. The bill will ensure that nursing facilities can safely ensure that patients who are in the most pain and most in need of the benefits of marijuana for medical use are able to access their doctor-recommended medicine. 3) Ask your legislator to Oppose LR 2329, An Act To Align Maine's Marijuana Laws with the Guidelines Governing Taxation and Regulation Issued by the Federal Government. This bill, sponsored by Representative Russell of Portland, closely resembles last year's bill to allow large-scale commercial marijuana businesses by creating a costly new regulatory system that favors large out-of-state investors at the expense of local caregivers. The new bill would increase spending on unnecessary enforcement schemes and is being rushed for approval without key stakeholder input. LD 2329 does not providing needed protections for Maine small businesses or for those people who will continue to face criminal charges for growing and using marijuana. Time is needed to develop a good law that generates revenue for the state and benefits as many Maine people as possible. 4) Thank your Representative or Senator for their time, and let them know you'll be voting for candidates who support medical marijuana patients and caregivers in the November 2014 elections. For more information on these bills, check out: www.mmcmonline.org It's especially important if your Representative or Senator is a member of the Legislative Council, it is especially important that they hear from you, their constituent. *The Legislative Council is: Speaker Mark Eves (North Berwick): 287-1300 / RepMark.Eves@legislature.maine.gov President Justin Alfond (Portland): 287-1500 / firstname.lastname@example.org Senator Troy Jackson (Allagash): 287-1515 / SenTroy.Jackson@legislature.maine.gov Senator Anne Haskell (Portland/Westbrook): 287-1515 / email@example.com Senator Michael Thibodeau (Winterport): 223-5177 / firstname.lastname@example.org Senator Roger Katz (Augusta): (207) 287-1505 / SenRoger.Katz@legislature.maine.gov Representative Seth Berry (Bowdoinham): 287-1430 / RepSeth.Berry@legislature.maine.gov Representative Jeffrey McCabe (Skowhegan): 287-1430 / RepJeff.McCabe@legislature.maine.gov Representative Ken Fredette (Newport): 287-1440 / RepKenneth.Fredette@legislature.maine.gov Representative Alexander Willette (Mapleton): 764-4600 / email@example.com More information and contacts for the Council members at: http://www.maine.gov/legis/execdir/Member%20Profiles.htm