Camden Herald letters to the editor March 25

Mar 25, 2021

Questioning Maine’s medical marijuana business overhaul

My family and I have been running a small farm and medical marijuana business in the Midcoast for 10 years. The opportunity to be a woman entrepreneur and to take care of my family with the work of my own hands and mind is to me what Maine is all about.

At the end of 2019 there were over 65,000 patients who relied on Maine's medical marijuana program — almost 5% of the state’s population. That number has grown. There are roughly 3,000 providers of medical marijuana in the state who supply locally-grown medicinal cannabis. This burgeoning industry has produced jobs, grown revenue streams for cities and towns, and supported families.

The medical marijuana program is run by the Office of Marijuana Policy and they are undertaking a massive overhaul driven by leadership in the state government. This begs the question: why? Maine’s 20-plus years of expertise in the medical marijuana industry has made it one of the very best programs in the nation. The good that this program has done for the state has grown exponentially. So why is OMP deciding to change the rules that govern the program to push out small mom & pop farms? Where is this push coming from?

Instead of fostering innovation by honoring the hard work of local farmers, clinicians, and patient experience, OMP has so far ignored what we have to offer. There is no data to support the need for the proposed changes to the program. Patients of the program have not been asked for input, nor have doctors, nor have caregivers. Why would this be?

What the proposed rule changes do is make it possible for massive out-of-state corporations to more easily dominate the industry in Maine. Why am I mandated to have incredibly expensive 24-hour video surveillance of every nook and cranny of my farm? To use a mandatory and unreliable expensive tracking system? To apply for countless permits and suffer privacy invasions no other industry is subject to? To utilize so much wasteful, pointless plastic packaging? Why can’t I sell my wholesome, home-grown product at a store? How is any small farmer expected to compete in this market?

As I know it, the Maine medical marijuana program is an exemplary beacon of hope for those with cancer, epilepsy, and other life threatening and debilitating illnesses. It is a job-creator in the rural and urban areas of the state. These rule changes will make it harder and more expensive for patients I have personally helped for years to get the medicine they need. I hope that the lawmakers reviewing changes to Maine’s thriving medical marijuana industry will see what these changes will do to family farmers in Maine. One great way to start would be to pass LD 939. It will be in front of the Legislature’s Veterans & Legal Affairs Committee Monday, March 29. These are reforms that we actually need.

Arleigh Kraus

Warren

 

 

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