Maine: Caregivers sound off about new rules for medical cannabis

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Proposed changes to the state's medical marijuana program are drawing fire from a number of patients and caregivers.

The new rules are being drafted by the state's Office of Marijuana Policy. 

The regulations will require caregivers who grow cannabis for patients, to enroll in a state inventory program that will track marijuana from seed to sale. 

This comes as the state will start taking applications in December, to license recreational marijuana businesses.

The proposed rules are expected go into effect sometime next year and will impact 25-hundred licensed caregivers who grow medical cannabis for patients. 

Patients and caregivers say the proposed rules are burdensome and costly and could cut access to medicine, especially for sick children.

Lisa Starostecki, who is a registered nurse, moved from Florida to Maine to grow medical cannabis for her son.

9-year old Stefan has severe epilepsy, that doesn't respond to medication. 

Using a certain strain of cannabis, he went from having 10 to 12 seizures daily to only several a month.  

Right now, as a caregiver, Lisa is able to make her son's medication using an extraction method, which allows it be made with an edible substance, such as olive oil, so its easy for children to digest. 

Under legislation that will be considered by lawmakers,  caregivers have to register with the state if they want continue to extract medicine from marijuana.

Another concern, it will be mandatory caregivers to be participate in the state's inventory tracking system. 

The set up fee is expected to be between 13-hundred and 21-hundred dollars, it will also have a monthly 300 dollar fee.

'We would have to spend the thousands of dollars in set up costs plus several hundred dollars a month to grow organic cannabis for our son,' said Starostecki. 

David Heidrich, the spokesman for the state Office of Marijuana Policy says parents, who only cultivate cannabis for their children will not be required to register in the state's inventory seed to sale program. 

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