AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill adding post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition for the prescription of medical marijuana quietly became law on Wednesday without Gov. Paul LePage’s signature.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Elizabeth Dickerson, D-Rockland, amends the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), inflammatory bowel disease and other illnesses to the list of conditions for which a physician may prescribe medical marijuana.
The new law takes effect late September.
Dickerson said Friday that she sponsored the bill at the request of a number of veterans, one of whom told her he would rather use medical marijuana than something like Prozac.
Paul McCarrier, legislative liaison for Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, said the change will help veterans and patients in Maine access “their medicine of choice” and will help physicians and others gather data about how medical marijuana can help veterans with PTSD.
The original bill received “quite a bit of pushback” from the Maine Medical Association, McCarrier said, because it contained language that would have added treatment of opioid or other pharmaceutical dependence, as well as “any other medical condition or its treatment as determined by a physician.”
Gordon Smith of the Maine Medical Association said that language was just one aspect of the bill that made many MMA member physicians uncomfortable.
“We had quite a fight with a few legislators who were very bothered by [our opposition] and asked, ‘Don’t we trust the doctors?’” Smith said. “I said, ‘No, not all 4,000 of them, no.