Maine has allowed prescribing, and limited possession, of medical marijuana since 1999 but the law lacked any distribution mechanism and questions arose of noncompliance with federal law and of how patients could legally obtain the prescribed marijuana. In October 2009 the Obama adminstration announced that it would halt prosecution of medical marijuana users and caregivers if they were in compliance with their state's law [read more]. On November 3, 2009 Maine voters approved Question 5, which enacted the citizen-initiated bill, "An act to establish the Maine Medical Marijuana Act" (LD 975, IB 2). The committee file for LD 975 contains additional information, such as the activity schedule, testimony sign-in sheet, testimony submitted at the public hearing, working papers and memoranda of the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services, and the committee vote tally sheet. (The contents of the file are not word searchable.)
Maine was the fifth state to provide for dispensaries of medical grade marijuana for persons with debilitating and chronic medical conditions. These not-for-profit dispensaries will be licensed and regulated by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
Following the November 2009 election, results were verified by the Secretary of State [see tabulations].
Governor Baldacci's press release of November 6, 2009 detailed an executive order which set up a task force chaired by Brenda Harvey, Commissioner of DHHS. On November 17, 2009, the Governor announced the names of the members of the task force. The Task Force issued its report to the Governor on January 27, 2010. The subsequent 2010 enactment of LD 1811, the Governor's bill, paved the way for promulgation of agency rules under the Administrative Procedures Act. Emergency rules were adopted on May 5, 2010 . Only eight dispensaries (one for each of the eight districts) were approved for the first year. Instructions and applications, as well as the text of the rules, are available on DHHS' Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services webpage.
Local governments also prepared for implementation of the law. Initially one community enacted a moratorium on the dispensaries. Brewer's city council voted unanimously to ban dispensaries for six months until the state rules and procedures for operating the dispensaries were in place. Since then Auburn, Ellsworth and South Portland have enacted or plan to enact similar moratoriums. For more recent developments see news article links in the tan column on the right.