Becoming a Patient in Maine

To qualify for legal protections in Maine, a patient must have a doctor’s certification that the patient has one of the eligible conditions specified by state law (see Eligible Conditions below).

A qualifying patient may possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and cultivate up to six (6) cannabis plants or designate a caregiver or dispensary to do so on the patient’s behalf. If you are a registered patient and elect to grow your own medicine or have someone do it for you, you must indicate this on the application for your ID.

Registration with the Maine Medical Marijuana Program (MMMP) is voluntary and not necessary to have qualified status for legal protections. Patients who possess a medical marijuana registry ID card issued by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services are required to have the card with them whenever they are in possession of cannabis. State law enforcement recognizes the card as proof of patient status. In addition, patients who were cardholders on or before September 28, 2011 may submit a written request to be removed from the MMMP registry and have all of their information expunged, unless a patient is part of a pending law enforcement obligation.

Patients who are not registered must have their original physician certification form and a Maine-issued photo ID and present both to law enforcement on request.

Caregivers are required to register with the MMMP unless the caregiver and patient are members of the same household. Caregivers may not have a criminal conviction and are subject to a background check.

If a patient or caregiver is found in possession of more than the limit set by law, the excess cannabis must be forfeit to law enforcement, but the patient or caregiver may present the medical purpose of the cannabis as a legal defense if charged.

Minor patients must have their parent or legal guardian apply as caregiver on their behalf.

What's Legal

Qualifying patients or their caregivers may possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana and up to 6 mature marijuana plants.

Eligible Conditions

  • Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, nail-patella syndrome or the treatment of these conditions;
  • A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces intractable pain, which is pain that has not responded to ordinary medical or surgical measures for more than 6 months;
  • A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe nausea; or seizures, including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy;
  • Any other medical condition or its treatment as approved by the DHHS; or
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder, inflammatory bowel disease, dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders and other diseases causing severe and persistent muscle spasms.

Application Process

The patient registry identification card is voluntary and free. Program application, forms, and instructions for patients, caregivers and physicians can be found online at:

            www.maine.gov/dhhs/dlrs/mmm/index.shtml

The Maine Medical Marijuana Program is administered by the Licensing and Regulatory Services office of DHHS:

Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Public Health Operations
286 Water Street, 5th Floor
Augusta, ME 04333
Tel: (207) 287-4325; Toll Free: 1-855-355-4325
Fax: (207) 287-2671
Email: dlrsmmp.dhhs@maine.gov

The registry ID card and the physician certification form expire on the same date. The expiration date is determined by the physician but can be no more than a year from issue.

Doctor

Medical professionals recommending medical cannabis must be licensed as an osteopathic physician by the Board of Osteopathic Licensure pursuant to Title 32, chapter 36 or a person licensed as a physician or surgeon by the Board of Licensure in Medicine pursuant to Title 32, chapter 48 who is in good standing and who holds a valid federal Drug Enforcement Administration license to prescribe drugs. Recommending physicians must be able to demonstrate a bona fide physician/patient relationship that will include ongoing monitoring of patient's medical condition. The physician must also caution patients not to engage in hazardous activities while under the influence of marijuana, and inform patients of the risks & benefits of medical use of marijuana and that the patient may benefit from use. 

Physicians must provide written certification to a qualifying patient using a DHHS-approved certification form on tamper-resistant paper. The written certification must state that in the physician’s professional opinion, "a patient is likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the medical use of marijuana to treat or alleviate the patient's debilitating medical condition." The recommending physician shall not disclose the patient’s specific medical condition on the issued written certification. This written certification must include the date that it was issued and the expiration date of the certification (a written certification expires one year after it is issued by the recommending physician). They must also maintain records supporting their decision to recommend medical marijuana.

The DHHS-approved certification can be found at: https://www1.maine.gov/online/medmarijuana/index.html

With respect to minors, a physician must explain the risks & benefits of medical use of marijuana to the patient and parent or legal custodian/guardian. A second opinion from a consulting physician must also be obtained.

Access/Caregivers/Dispensaries

Patients may designate a primary caregiver to assist the patient with medical use of marijuana. A caregiver must be at least 21 years of age and may not have been convicted of a disqualifying drug offense. Caregivers must register with the State and receive an ID card before they can possess and cultivate marijuana unless they live in the same household as the patient or are a member of the same family as the patient.

Patients may also designate a second primary caregiver if they fit one of the following qualifications:

  • If the patient is a minor qualifying patent under 18 years of age. The first primary caregiver for the minor patient shall be the patient’s parent or legal custodian/guardian;
  • If the patient is an incapacitated adult. The first primary caregiver for an incapacitated adult shall be the patient’s legal guardian or power of attorney for health care; or
  • If the patient is a registered patient in a hospice or nursing facility.

Caregivers may possess up to 2.5 ounces and 6 plants in an enclosed and locked facility for each patient the caregiver assists. A person cannot be a caregiver for more than 5 patients and 6 plants per patient. Caregivers may receive compensation for the costs of their services.

Maine has a licensed system of medical cannabis dispensaries. These dispensaries must have a department-issued certificate of registration, which expires one year after the date of issuance, and the certificate must be displayed in a publicly visible location in the dispensary. A registered dispensary is selected by a patient based solely on the patient’s preference as indicated on the patient’s designation form (whether registered or non-registered). A dispensary must be incorporated as a non-profit corporation, but may receive reasonably monetary compensation for costs associated with assisting or cultivating marijuana for a patient who has designated the dispensary. A dispensary may not give you more than 2.5 ounces of cannabis in a 15-day period. Local ordinances may also determine how dispensaries can operate near you.

Both caregivers and dispensaries must obtain a food establishment license prior to preparing goods containing marijuana for consumption by patients.

Patient collectives are prohibited. Patients must cultivate for themselves or designate a registered caregiver or licensed dispensary to do it for them. A registered caregiver may enlist the assistance of another registered caregiver in tending plants for up to two weeks by providing written notice to DHHS.

Caregivers who are cultivating pay a registration fee of $300 per patient (up to 5) and $31 for the criminal background check, as well as an annual renewal fee of $300 per qualifying patient. Caregivers who do not cultivate only $31 for the criminal background check, and no application or renewal fee is charged.

The patient designation form for caregivers and dispensaries can be found at: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/public-health-systems/mmm/documents/110103-MMPDesignationForm3.pdf

The caregiver application form can be found at: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/public-health-systems/mmm/documents/1-05-15-MMMP-Caregiver-Application2.pdf

Consumption

You are not allowed to possess cannabis in a school bus; on preschool, primary or secondary school grounds; or in any correctional facility. Do not smoke in public or while operating a vehicle.

Age Limits

A minor-patient's application must include parental consent. You will need to submit copies of any documents establishing parental relationship or legal guardianship with the application. In addition, the parent or legal custodian/guardian must serve as caregiver for the minor-patient and control dosage/frequency.

Discrimination

Maine protects patients and caregivers from being discriminated against by schools, employers, or landlords because of your status as a qualifying patient or caregiver. These protections do not apply if they would cause a school, employer, or landlord to risk losing federal funding or cause them to violate federal law. If smoking is prohibited in an area, including an apartment, then this will apply to medical cannabis as well as to tobacco.

Confidentiality

The list of patients maintained by the State is confidential, but DHHS may tell a law enforcement officer if a patient has a valid registry ID.

Out of State Patients

A visiting medical cannabis patient with an equivalent ID issued by another state is protected by Maine's medical cannabis laws if the following criteria are met:

  • The visiting patient possesses a valid Maine-approved written physician certificate form, which has been completed, signed and dated by the visiting patient’s home-jurisdiction treating physician. The form is available on the DHHS site at: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/dlrs/mmm/index.shtml.
  • The visiting patient possesses a valid medical use of marijuana certification/card issued by the visiting patient’s home-jurisdiction.
  • The visiting patient possess a valid photographic ID or driver’s license issued by the visiting patient’s home-jurisdiction.

This protection is temporary so if you are a patient who plans on staying in Maine, then you must get a Maine patient ID.

Under Maine law, registered patients and caregivers are protected from arrest and prosecution. If a registered patient or caregiver is prosecuted on state charges, the patient or caregiver is entitled to present an affirmative defense that the cannabis was for medical purpose.

Finding a Doctor for a Recommendation

First and foremost, be forthright with your current doctor. Maine law specifies that your certifying doctor must have a bona fide physician-patient relationship with you and make a full assessment of your medical history and current condition.

If you are already medicating with cannabis on your own, tell your doctor specifically what on the Maine list of qualifying conditions you treat with cannabis and how it helps you. Honestly describe the amount of cannabis you use, how often, and by what delivery method.

Your doctor's recommendation must be in writing and certify that you have a qualifying debilitating medical condition that is likely to be benefit from the medical use of cannabis. You must have a bona fide physician-patient relationship with your doctor, meaning you are under that doctor's primary care or specialized care for your debilitating condition; the relationship may not be limited to writing a recommendation. Your doctor must be licensed to practice medicine in the state of Maine at the time of the recommendation.

There is nothing wrong with using medical cannabis or discussing it with your doctor. A federal court has ruled that, under the First Amendment, doctors may not be punished by the DEA for recommending medical cannabis. But if you have a qualifying condition and your doctor does not issue medical cannabis recommendations, you may need to visit a medical cannabis specialist, though state law says you must be under the care of the recommending physician for more than the purpose of being certified.

Medical Cannabis Specialists

Before consulting a medical cannabis specialist, patients should already have medical records of diagnosis and treatment of a qualifying condition under Maine law. Be aware that:

  • Not all doctors are qualified to make recommendations.
  • The doctor will want to see your medical records.
  • It can cost more than $100 to see a medical cannabis specialist;
  • Paying the money does not guarantee that you will get a recommendation.

Obtaining a Registry Identification Card

The patient registry identification card is voluntary and free. Patients who possess a medical marijuana registry ID card issued by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services are required to have the card with them whenever they are in possession of cannabis. State law enforcement recognizes the card as proof of patient status, but registration is not necessary to qualify for legal protections.

Program application, forms, and instructions for patients, caregivers and physicians can be found online at:

            www.maine.gov/dhhs/dlrs/mmm/index.shtml

The Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program is administered by the Licensing and Regulatory Services office of DHHS:

Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Public Health Operations
286 Water Street, 5th Floor
Augusta, ME 04333
Tel: (207) 287-4325; Toll Free: 1-855-355-4325
Fax: (207) 287-2671
Email: dlrsmmp.dhhs@maine.gov

Applications are to be submitted by mail. The registry ID card and the physician certification form expire on the same date. The expiration date is determined by the physician but can be no more than a year from issue.

Qualified Doctor

Your physician can only recommend medical cannabis after completing a full assessment of your medical history and current condition as part of a bona-fide physician-patient relationship. Your physician must be licensed to practice in Maine. Other licensed health professionals such as chiropractors and physician assistants cannot sign the documentation.

Renewals

Maine registry cards expire one year after the date they are issued. The issuance and expiration date of a primary caregiver’s card must be the same as their patient’s dates.

At least 30 days before a card expires, the registered patient or the registered primary caretaker must submit the annual renewal form with all required documentation. The primary caregiver must also submit a $10 renewal fee.

Registry Card Changes or Loss

If there has been a change in your name, address, telephone number, physician, or caregiver, or if you have lost your registry card, contact DHHS at (207) 287-4325 for a replacement.

Becoming a Legal Caregiver

Patients may designate a primary caregiver to assist the patient with medical use of marijuana and cultivation of marijuana. A caregiver must be at least 21 years of age and may not have been convicted of a disqualifying drug offense. Caregivers must register with the State and receive an ID card before they can possess and cultivate marijuana unless they live in the same household as the patient or are a member of the same family as the patient.

Patients may also designate a second primary caregiver if they fit one of the following qualifications:

  • If the patient is a minor qualifying patent under 18 years of age. The first primary caregiver for the minor patient shall be the patient’s parent or legal custodian/guardian;
  • If the patient is an incapacitated adult. The first primary caregiver for an incapacitated adult shall be the patient’s legal guardian or power of attorney for health care; or
  • If the patient is a registered patient in a hospice or nursing facility.

Caregivers may possess up to 2.5 ounces and 6 plants in an enclosed and locked facility for each patient the caregiver assists. A person cannot be a caregiver for more than 5 patients and 6 plants per patient. Caregivers may receive compensation for the costs of their services.

Caregivers must obtain a food establishment license prior to preparing goods containing marijuana for consumption by patients.

Caregivers who are cultivating pay a registration fee of $300 per patient (up to 5) and $31 for the criminal background check, as well as an annual renewal fee of $300 per qualifying patient. Caregivers who do not cultivate only $31 for the criminal background check, and no application or renewal fee is charged.

Obtaining Cannabis for Qualified Patients

Patients may cultivate cannabis, or designate their primary caretaker or licensed dispensary to do it for them.