AUGUSTA —Medical marijuana dispensaries would be required to grow their own marijuana and would be limited to one facility in each of the state’s eight public health districts the first year, lawmakers decided Thursday.
Members of the Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously in favor of a revised version of the citizen initiative passed by voters last fall to allow authorized patients access to the drug for medical purposes.
“It was difficult for a number of people on the committee to reconcile with this (vote),” said state Rep. Anne Perry, D-Calais, House chairwoman of the committee. “It took time with caucusing and negotiating for them to come to the table.”
The committee also agreed Thursday that marijuana dispensaries would be subject to unannounced inspections by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and that patients and caregivers could grow marijuana.
Caregivers may provide the drug to up to five patients and are limited to six mature plants or 2½ ounces of usable marijuana per patient. Caregivers providing two or more patients with marijuana would be subject to inspections by DHHS with 24-hour notice, according to the agreement approved Thursday.
DHHS, which is in charge of regulating the dispensary system, would be allowed to charge up to $15,000 in registration fees per dispensary, the committee decided. According to the citizen initiative, the program is to be self-sufficient, but officials are unsure how much it will cost, which is why lawmakers gave the department leeway on the fees.
Patients and caregivers also would be charged registration fees by DHHS in order to be authorized to use and provide marijuana.
The measure will be scheduled for votes by the full Legislature in the coming weeks.