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Maine’S Medical Marijuana Program Part 1: Caregivers Grow At Home With Video


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Maine’s medical marijuana program has grown rapidly, in recent years.

In addition to 8 dispensaries, there are nearly 1,800 registered caregivers in Maine.

State law allows caregivers to cultivate and sell a limited amount of marijuana to patients, with a doctor recommendation.

Since 1999, the state has allowed doctors to recommend medical marijuana, along with limited possession for patients.

But until 2009, state law lacked any formal system for distribution.

Soon after the Obama administration announced plans to halt prosecution of users and caregivers, if they were in compliance with state law, Maine voters approved a ballot initiative that paved the way for dispensaries and residential grow operations.

“You name it, I’ve grown it. If it can be grown in Maine, I have grown it,” said a central Maine grower, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Beneath jars of home-grown carrots, green beans, and beets, this 74-year-old retired educator stores more than $10,000 worth of medical marijuana, in this basement of her Newport-area home.

“I’m growing medicine, Terry. So quality is absolutely top,” she told reporter Terry Stackhouse.

She got into growing after a friend, living with chronic pain, pleaded with her to produce medical marijuana. She prides herself on cultivating organically grown cannabis without potentially harmful pesticides.

“That is not true of a random street grower and it is not true of the big corporations that move in and grown on a humongous scale either,” she said.

It’s an expensive endeavor. The uses the money made from her business The Shepherd’s Garden to supplement her social security pension. Because the drug is still illegal on a federal level, finding a place to safely store her profits is challenging.

She said, “I have no relationship with a bank or a credit union so what do I do with all this cash?”

We asked her, “In recent months, we’ve seen a couple of medical marijuana groweries that have been robbed. You living here on your own, do you have security concerns?”

“My expectation is that someday, I will be robbed,” she responded.

The state’s medical marijuana program is overseen by the state department of Licensing and Regulatory Services.

“No one ever comes to inspect my records. No one ever comes to inspect my grow. I think there’s a lot of trust involved,” she said.

Caregivers are allowed to cultivate 6 plants for each patient they serve. Right now, state law permits only 5 patients per caregiver. Catherine and Glenn Lang started growing 5 years ago.

“I can’t imagine getting speeding tickets let alone having my door kicked in and law enforcement here,” said registered caregiver Catherine Lewis.

She and her husband Glenn cultivate marijuana in a two-story grow-house behind their home in Manchester.

“As the plant matures it will turn more into a bush,” said Glenn, showing his crop.

Some of their patients prefer not to smoke marijuana. Through their company Homegrown Healthcare of Maine, they instead offer a variety of items with marijuana extract including candy, cooking oil, pills, and lotions, tinctures – a highly potent liquid extract.

“We had parents here with an epileptic child who was right in the middle of seizures and they take the tincture and rub it on her gums and watch her stop seizing. It is amazing,” said Catherine.

“The misconception that people have that the cannabis plant that we are growing out back is the stuff that’s going to put you to the moon to get you high, well that’s not true,” said Glenn. “You are not going to get high on this. There’s a huge medicinal purpose to it.”

They fear changes in state or federal law could compromise their efforts but, for now, they hope to deepen their roots in an industry fertile for growth.

“You can’t say that it is not medicine when you actually watch it work miracles for some people,” said Catherine.

Glenn and Catherine are both working to lobby change in state law that would allow them to serve more than 5 patients each at a time.

They and other caregivers say doing so would allow them the financial freedom to donate medical marijuana to those without the means to purchase it.



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