Maine’s Medical Marijuana Work Group met online on Nov. 30, 2021.

Maine’s Medical Marijuana Work Group is still searching for consensus on testing standards following the fourth and potentially penultimate meeting before recommendations are officially made to the legislature.

“Certainly everything that we report back to we want to make sure that we are accurately reflecting and making sure everybody’s voices are heard,” said Erik Gundersen, director of the Office of Marijuana Policy, during the work group’s Nov. 30 meeting. 

On one side, the group acknowledged that there was a legitimate need to ensure that cannabis is tested to ensure that no mold or other harmful substances are present in the product. On the other hand, testing and tracking requirements can be onerous for small-scale caregivers that may only serve a handful of consumers.

“If I knew that this work group would have been put together just to talk about how we’re gonna change the law to make mandatory testing and how to reintroduce Metrc without having an in-depth discussion about the rules that were submitted last session and how they overreach statutorily and how we can work to improve them i wouldn’t have applied to be on this committee,” said Paul McCarrier, who represents caregivers on the work group.

In recent weeks, there has been an increase in interest for Maine to adopt seed tracking requirements for its medical market in light of a major trafficking bust in Farmington, Maine, which continues to be a financial concern for caregivers. 

The work group also approved recommendations for the legislature to preserve patient confidentiality and to prioritize consumer cost for medical cannabis when creating new regulations.

“For me that’s a primary consideration,” said caregiver representative Michelle Caminos about prioritizing customer cost.

The group called for license types to be consolidated for caregivers and caregiver assistants in a way that would allow assistants to more easily transition to other parts of the cannabis economy, such as commercial dispensaries.

There was also unanimous support to allow medical patients to use digital credentials in place of a physical ID card, so long as the physical card was still an option.

“I wouldn’t want digital to be mandatory, especially in our rural communities,” said Patricia Callahan, who represents cannabis patients.

Although the group planned to find consensus on testing standards, they found an impasse on what caregivers should be required to do.

“If I pulled every single caregiver and dispensary representative on this call they’re all gonna say they test but as soon as we talk about some type of required testing it becomes a different conversation,” said Gundersen. “So that’s where we’re trying to find that fine line between testing for those certain analyte types that we know exist and we see exist that would have the largest long-term or short-term public health effects.”

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Zack cut his journalistic teeth covering high school sports in the south before spending a decade covering local government, politics and the courts in the Boston, Massachusetts area. He's previously written...