We’ll go ahead and be 100% honest; figuring out how to get a medical marijuana card in Maine is pretty confusing. The state’s official “Medical Use of Marijuana” online platform is a little vague, and it really doesn’t outline the step-by-step process too well. Don’t get us wrong, there is A LOT of information on there (including a 66-page “Medical Use of Marijuana Program Rule”), but for the average person just trying to figure out how to get their card to buy legal medical weed, it’s not much help.
That’s where we (hopefully) can come in. We’ve sifted through all the boring and confusing regulations jargon to put together this super simple guide that’ll help get you on your way to securing a medical marijuana certification in Maine, which (if approved) will allow you to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of pot.
First, though, let’s go over a little bit of background info on legal weed use in the state.
Brief History of Medical Marijuana in Maine
Maine actually has a long and colorful history when it comes to marijuana and the law. In 1913 it became the second state (after Massachusetts) to ban the drug, but then in 1976 it was only the third state to decriminalize the possession of weed in small amounts. In 1999, 62% of the state voted yes on the “Maine Medical Marijuana for Specific Illnesses” statute (otherwise known as Question 2), which officially legalized weed for medicinal use with the diagnosis of a qualifying condition.
The drug was then decriminalized again in 2009, as Governor John Baldacci signed LD 250, a piece of legislation that classified the possession of fewer than 2.5 ounces of cannabis as a ‘civil infraction’ rather than a criminal penalty.
At the time of writing, though, the legal status of marijuana in Maine is still a little wishy-washy. Recreational use has indeed been legal in the state since 2016, but you still can’t buy it from an actual store without a medical marijuana certification. The state did pass two different bills that would have allowed for taxable sales (i.e. recreational dispensaries), but both of them were vetoed by Governor Paul LePage. A third, however, which was introduced in January of this year (2018), is expected to be approved by LePage in May. If so, it will allow retail licenses for the sale of recreational weed to start being issued in Spring of 2019.
However, that still means it will be a LONG time before you can walk into a dispensary in Maine and buy legal recreational marijuana. Until then, you’ll still need the valid medical certificate if you want the convenience of being able to buy right from a local dispensary.
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Without that convenience, you’ll still be subject to some pretty harsh criminal penalties if you get busted buying, selling, or possessing more than 2.5 g of weed, or cultivating more than 6 plants. Here are the current penalties for the illegal sale or purchase of weed in Maine:
What Are the Medical Marijuana Card Eligibility Criteria in Maine?
To be eligible for a physician or practitioner-issued medical marijuana certification in Maine, you’ll need to have been diagnosed with any one of the following conditions, and be able to provide documentation of the diagnosis in your medical records. Here is the list of current qualifying medical conditions:
- Chronic Pain (Which has not responded to conventional therapy for more than 6 months)
- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Hepatitis C (active form)
- Seizure Disorders
- Severe Muscle Spasms (Including MS)
- Severe Nausea
Of course, the only real condition here that’s open to any kind of “interpretation” is chronic pain. To try and avoid the issue of any random Maine resident being able to walk into their physicians office and ask for an MMJ card based on “chronic pain,” however, the state has defined the condition as documented pain that “has not responded to conventional therapy” for more than 6 months. As you’ll see below, though, it seems that some Maine MMJ doctors are willing to bend the rules just a little bit on this one (at least according to some firsthand accounts).
In any manner, if you have medical documentation verifying a diagnosis of any one of the above conditions, acquiring your medical marijuana certificate in Maine should be a relatively simple and straightforward process.
How Do I Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in Maine?
If you have the proper medical records and documentation, you’ll see that there are really only two steps to applying for a medical marijuana card in Maine, the first of which is to meet with a state-licensed physician that will be willing to issue you the MMJ certification once he or she consults with you and deems you a qualified candidate.
Step 1 – Find a Physician in Maine
To be clear, unlike the process for most U.S. states with a medical marijuana program, you will not actually receive your valid MMJ card from the state itself.
Rather, your physician will be entirely responsible for evaluating you, examining your medical records, and if deemed a valid candidate, registering you with the MMMP (Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program) and issuing you your active medical marijuana certification – sometimes within hours of your initial consultation.
As such, the very first step in getting your Maine medical marijuana card is finding a physician that will be willing to A) examine you, and B) register you with the MMMP and print your certification. Unfortunately, this has proved to be a bit easier said than done for some Maine residents, as physicians in the state are notoriously divided when it comes to the use of medical cannabis.
If your PCP happens to be one of the more “anti-cannabis” ones and does not agree to talk with you about medical marijuana, there are plenty of MMJ doctors in the state that would be happy to consult with you, and perhaps even issue you a valid certification on the same day – if you come with all supporting documentation (see below for a list of that).
Here is a list of state-approved medical marijuana doctors in Maine that issue cannabis certifications for qualifying patients. Please note, though, that the average cost of an evaluation is between $250-$300.
Once you are deemed a qualified patient and have provided all necessary documentation (see below), the physician’s office will print your “Tamper Proof” MMJ Certificate, at which point you’ll be able to legally buy weed from one of the state’s six licensed dispensaries, which are:
- Maine Organic Therapy | Ellsworth, ME – (207) 667-0510
- Wellness Connection | Bath, ME – 1-855-848-6740
- Canuvo, Inc | Biddeford, ME – 1-207-602-6130
- Wellness Connection | Gardiner, ME – 1-855-848-6740
- Safe Alternatives | Eagle Lake, ME – (207) 444-2846
- Wellness Connection | Portland, ME – 1-855-848-6740
- Remedy Compassion Center | Auburn, ME – (800) 809-1464
- Wellness Connection | Brewer, ME – 1-855-848-6740
Documentation to bring on your physician consultation
Basically, the only things you will need to bring with you to the physician’s office for your initial MMJ consultation are:
- Proof of Maine residence (most people simply use their valid Maine driver’s license)
- Valid form of payment (this is for the cost of the physician consultation, as well as the $100 application fee. Most Maine marijuana doctors accept cash and major debit/credit cards, although many will require that you pay ahead prior to the actual visit).
- Copies of your Medical Records (if you are hoping to get your Maine medical marijuana certificate on the same day of your initial consultation, then you will need to bring copies of your medical records showing diagnosis of one of the above qualifying conditions. *If you do not bring your medical records, the MMJ doctor will likely not be able to issue you the certification on the same day. Their office will, however, provide you with a Medical Release Form and assist you with obtaining your records from previous doctors offices.*)
**In fact, a federal law was passed in 2004 that requires all health care providers to issue patients a copy of their personal medical records within 15 days of a formal request. If the office states otherwise, or otherwise refuses to release the records, you may notify them (verbally and in writing) that they will be reported to the Maine Medical Board. You DO NOT have to provide a reason for a copy of the records.**
What Happens When I Am Approved for a Medical Marijuana Card in Maine?
If your overseeing MMJ physician deems you a qualified candidate for medical marijuana use in Maine, he or she will ask you how you’ll want to receive your meds. Basically, you have three options:
- Grow Your Own Marijuana: If you already have experience growing your own cannabis, or otherwise live in an area of Maine that is not close to one of the state’s eight licensed dispensaries, then this will likely be your best option. You will legally be allowed to cultivate up to 6 cannabis plants within your private residence. If you are a renter, however, be sure to consult with your landlord before attempting to cultivate. Also, please review the state’s Rules Governing The Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program, which you can find on the Maine Department of Health and Human Services website.
- Buy From a Licensed Medical Marijuana Dispensary: If you live in proximity to one of the eight licensed dispensaries listed above, then buying your meds from a storefront is an incredibly convenient and hassle-free option. Depending on physician recommendation, you will be able to purchase up to 2.5 oz of cannabis every 14 days.
- Use a Designated Caregiver: A registered Caregiver is an individual who is licensed to grow medical marijuana and provide it to qualified medical patients. Licensed caregivers may not care for more than five medical marijuana patients at any one time, and all patients must be registered with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Caregivers provide patients with personalized guidance and support, and often they are able to offer more competitive pricing than the state licensed dispensaries. **If you are wondering how to find a medical marijuana caregiver in Maine, your best bet is to contact a caregiver trade association such as the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine (MMCM) or the Compassionate Caregivers of Maine (CCM).
Other Stipulations on Medical Marijuana Caregivers in Maine
If you choose to go the caregiver route to receive your cannabis meds, you’ll need to be wary that they meet the following conditions:
- Must be at least 21 years of age
- Must never have been convicted of a disqualifying drug offense
- Must not be caring for more than five medical marijuana patients
**A licensed Maine caregiver can possess and cultivate marijuana on your behalf, as long as they are registered with the state and receive a valid I.D card.**
Moreover, unlike many states Maine allows you to have a second primary caregiver under the following circumstances:
- If the patient is a qualifying minor (under the age of 18) and the first caregiver is the patient’s parent or legal guardian.
- If an adult patient is incapacitated since the first caregiver is the patient’s health care power of attorney or their legal guardian.
- If the patient is registered in a nursing facility or hospice.
Other things to note regarding medical marijuana caregivers in Maine is that primary caregivers are allowed to grow up to six plants and possess a maximum of 2.5 ounces of marijuana. They are also allowed a maximum of five patients with six plants per patient. Caregivers that cultivate have to pay $300 per patient, $31 for a criminal background check and $300 per patient for each annual renewal.
How Do I Renew My Medical Marijuana Card in Maine?
Your Maine MMJ card lasts for one year from the date it was issued. You (and your primary caregiver, if applicable) will have to get in touch with the issuing physician’s office to send for renewal at least 30 days prior to the card’s expiration date.
Also, you will have to meet with the physician or nurse practitioner again to deem that you are still eligible to use medical marijuana in the state. Your primary caregiver will have to pay a $10 renewal fee, and the annual physician’s visit will cost the same as the initial fee – typically between $250-$300.
Additional Information About the Medical Marijuana Card in Maine
The state of Maine has a dispensary program, so only locations that are registered under the rules of the medical marijuana program are allowed to provide patients with marijuana. This means the dispensaries have to operate on a not-for-profit basis.
There are also specific cultivation facility rules. For example, excess unused marijuana can be moved from one qualified patient to another, as long as both patients remain within the legal limit (i.e. if you are a patient with four ounces of cannabis, you can provide another registered patient with 1.5+ ounces. If a dispensary has excess unused weed, it can legally give it to a patient for free if that individual is unable to afford it).
Only the patient and their primary caregiver are allowed into a dispensary, and minors are not allowed entry under any circumstances. Most dispensaries in Maine have a price structure designed to make the medicine affordable for all patients.
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