Maine MMJ caregiver crackdown possible

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Medical cannabis caregivers in Maine enjoy a good amount of autonomy and some sizable competitive advantages over licensed dispensaries, as they don’t face the regulatory hurdles and state oversight that storefront operations encounter.

But that may be about to change.

The Department of Health and Human Services is backing a new legislative effort to give officials more oversight powers when it comes to Maine’s roughly 1,700 MMJ caregivers, according to the Bangor Daily News.

Caregivers are allowed to serve up to five patients and cultivate up to six plants per patient. Some operate pseudo businesses and make a living by selling medical marijuana to patients, dampening the market for licensed dispensaries.

The health department has limited oversight on caregivers, as it can’t force them to divulge much information or register their information.

So the agency came up with a bill that would give health officials more authority to enforce existing rules and penalize caregivers who overstep their bounds.

The Maine Association of Dispensary Operators is supporting the move, arguing that the freedom caregivers have puts the entire state’s industry in jeopardy by risking unnecessary federal attention, the newspaper reported.

Caregivers, however, are resisting and suggest that they’re being targeted unfairly. They point out that their reach is already limited to a handful of patients, while the state’s eight dispensaries can serve as many patients as they wish.