By Michael Shepherd firstname.lastname@example.org
AUGUSTA — Maine’s medical marijuana laws, wrought by activists and enshrined by legislative Democrats, got a boost from conservatives last week when Gov. Paul LePage signed a bill liberalizing the state’s policy.
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L.D. 1296, “An Act To Amend the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act To Protect Patient Privacy,” sponsored by Rep. Deborah Sanderson, R-Chelsea, eliminates the mandate that patients register with the state.
Sanderson’s bill also scales back mandatory disclosure to the state of a patient’s specific medical condition.
When the law takes effect, patients will need only tote physicians’ recommendations on tamper-proof paper, instead of the registration cards they carry now, in case of police intervention, Sanderson said.
She said prescribing doctors’ contact information will have to be placed on the card.
Caregivers — the people patients entrust with providing them marijuana — still have to register with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
Sanderson said the bill’s main focus was privacy.
“One of the reasons many patients don’t want to register is that they’re sensitive about their conditions,” Sanderson said. “They also don’t want the federal government to gain access to that database. That fear is legitimate.”
In 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder directed federal prosecutors not to prosecute marijuana users who conform with state medical marijuana laws. But in 2011, Holder wrote letters to officials in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, directing them not to liberalize medical marijuana laws.
Rep. Benjamin Chipman, a