AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine was one of a handful of states that allowed some food stamp applicants to deduct medical marijuana expenses from their income for the purpose of determining benefits, but last week that practice was stopped by order of federal officials.
“They told us it is not an allowable deduction and we have stopped allowing it,” said Dale Denno, director of the Office of Family Independence, which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps.
He said the deduction was limited to elderly or permanently disabled Mainers and not all of the people eligible for SNAP benefits. He said his agency does not know how many individuals are affected by the change but said he believed it was a small number.
Maine, New Mexico and Oregon have laws allowing the use of medical marijuana. Denno said Maine’s law requires a doctor to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
“Since the regulation talked about both prescription drugs and other medications approved by a licensed practitioner, it appeared to be encompassed in that broader definition,” he said. “They now clarify that a household may not use the SNAP medical deduction for the use of medical marijuana.”
Denno said the direction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which funds and administers the SNAP program, is clear to the three states that the deduction must end or the states face penalties.
“States that currently allow for the deduction of medical marijuana must cease this practice immediately,”