Bill would let physicians decide who gets marijuana

December 10th, 2012 by admin Leave a reply »

AUGUSTA — A bill expected to be submitted in the coming legislative session would eliminate the categories for which medical marijuana can be prescribed. It also would allow any physician to write a prescription for the plant, which advocates say has broad medicinal applications, rather than limiting it to a select few who are licensed.

Rep . Mark Dion, D-Portland, a former Cumberland County sheriff, will submit the bill in January.

“I’m trying to restore physician autonomy,” he said Friday. “Nowhere else does the state intrude into the physician-patient relationship.” Dion said doctors are able to prescribe a host of other medicines without having to ensure that they correspond with a specific ailment.

The Maine Medical Association is prepared to oppose the bill, according to Gordon Smith, the organization’s executive vice president. If the categories are removed, Smith argued, then the medical marijuana program would become no more than a “front” for legalized pot.

Paul McCarrier, director of the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, said the restrictions prevent effective use of the substance. The categories for which the drug is permitted are narrow, including chronic pain and symptoms associated with AIDS. As a result, he said, “People have to lie to their doctors.”

For Ryan Begin, 32, of Montville the proposed law has personal consequences.

A veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq, where an improvised explosive device “blew off my elbow,” as he describes it, he suffers from chronic pain, PTSD and other health issues. Through the Veterans Administration, he had been prescribed painkillers

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