Federal prohibition of medical marijuana continues to handcuff now-legal …

September 6th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

PORTLAND, Maine — Blueberries. Potatoes. Marijuana.

These are three of Maine’s top agricultural stalwarts.

“I would imagine it’s one of the state’s largest cash crops,” said Becky DeKeuster, executive clinical director of the Wellness Connection of Maine, far and away the state’s largest distributor of medical marijuana.

That may be where the similarities drop off.

Despite the fact that medical marijuana dispensaries were legalized in Maine in 2009, Wellness Connection officials say their business continues to be nagged by the federal prohibition of pot. And that’s without the spectre of federal prosecution, as U.S. Justice Department officials have followed a hands-off approach to enforcement in states that have decriminalized the drug locally.

Most insurance plans, using federal guidelines, won’t cover medical marijuana use. Distributors cannot apply for federal nonprofit status. Science laboratories are reluctant to do research on the drug because most are funded by federal grants. Patients can be legally denied jobs. The list of underreported byproducts of the clash between state and U.S. marijuana laws goes on and on, said Wellness Connection Chief Operating Officer Patricia Rosi.

That’s on top of the lingering stigma that Rosi said continues to follow and embarrass medical marijuana users.

It’s a very different business landscape than exists for blueberry and potato growers.

But unlike Maine’s iconic blueberries, cannabis is being credited with — as one patient said — “giving people their lives back.”

Ruthann Carkhuff, 44, said she was diagnosed in 1996 with fibromyalgia and degenerative disc disease, conditions that sapped her of the ability to lift her limbs. Before starting

Article source: http://bangordailynews.com/2013/09/06/health/federal-prohibition-of-medical-marijuana-continues-to-handcuff-now-legal-industry-in-maine/