We’ve got another bill in the pipeline that totally disregards medical marijuana patients’ rights. LD 1081, sponsored by Senator Scott Cyrway (R-Benton), seeks to establish where marijuana can be smoked. Like LD 141, this bill shows how far cannabis patients still have to go before being taken seriously.

One of the restrictions proposed in LD 1081 (click here for text of the bill) would prohibit patients from smoking in a private residence if someone under 18 is present. The bill proposes other things, too, but that one prohibition above all, hits home hard. It’s a trigger for me, even.

After finally achieving legitimacy in the eyes of the law, medical cannabis patients who are also parents, like me, risk being viewed as criminals again, should this legislation pass.

Screenshots of proposed bill

Long before there was a legal medical marijuana program, I learned that cannabis could help me in ways prescription medications couldn’t. Anyone who preaches about the dangers of the psychoactive effects of THC probably hasn’t had much experience with psychotropic drugs or pain medications, which for me, are far more mind-altering.

It was a hard process to reach the decision to use marijuana medicinally as I tried different pharmaceuticals; and it was a painful decision to live as clinicians and people in my inner circle judged me no matter what I said. It didn’t matter that I felt better and functioned better; to them I was making a criminal choice to abuse a substance instead of taking the pills I should be taking.

Because of those perceptions and the laws that supported them, I felt a great deal of shame using cannabis illegally as a parent. I tried to be as responsible about my choice as I could be, and I chose to smoke either outside or in ventilated spaces that were separate from my children. It’s not like I could go without medicating in entirety, though.

My youngest was a teenager when I finally got my medical marijuana card.  The lifting of that burden of shame overwhelmed me. I cried all the way to the doctor’s office and back from the sense of relief.

Both my boys are adults now; but if LD 1081 gets passed, I’ll get to feel that shame again, just in time for grandparenthood. Since my mental and physical health conditions aren’t the kind that go away, I’m still using medical marijuana to maintain my health. I smoke it, eat it, and use it topically.

Eating cannabis and using it topically benefit my conditions greatly, however, smoking it is my primary intake method. Inhaling marijuana – to the best of my knowledge and definitely in my personal experience – is the fastest way to get the most amount of medicine into your system, and I have no intention of stopping.

I’ve been medicating and parenting for decades, now, so I don’t need anyone telling me how to do so. It’s silly really. The idea of legislators telling me how and where to medicate for health conditions of which they have little or no understanding in a family setting of which they also have little or no understanding.

Sillier still is telling me how and where to medicate using a substance that actually enhances my parenting ability when no one says boo about using medications that incapacitate parenting abilities. Parenting is the primary reason I stopped using prescription medications and switched back to weed in the first place; to say the side effects of prescription medications left me less able to engage as a parent is an understatement.

I could’ve chosen or could choose to take any number of prescription medications that drastically alter my mood and energy levels without the legislature chiming in. Choose the natural option that supports healthy relationships and suddenly, I need Cyrway telling me what to do and where to do it.

This bill presumes patients are bad parents who are incapable of balancing their medication regimen and their parenting responsibilities. That’s offensive. The state already has ample tools at its disposal to handle irresponsible, neglectful and/or abusive parents and doesn’t need to codify such presumptions about patients.

This bill, like LD 141, is an opportunity to educate our legislators about our lifestyles as medical marijuana patients. Unlike LD 141, this bill places medical marijuana far below parity with alcohol, which can be consumed in front of a minor child; therefore the enlightenment curve is pretty steep. Am I the only one who remembers taking a nasty-tasting nip off a grown-up’s glass of the real gateway drug?

This bill hasn’t had a committee hearing, yet, so patients can testify at the hearing on Monday February 10 at 10:00 am in State House Room 437 or submit public comments for the Veterans and Legal Affairs committee to consider.

To submit testimony to the Veterans and Legal Affairs committee, you can email the committee directly at VLA@legislature.maine.gov or click here and follow the prompts at the bottom of the page. Emailing directly is probably easier because the contact program isn’t very user-friendly, and you have to scroll to the bottom of the page each time you enter a field.

Contact Senator Cyrway:  Scott.Cyrway@maine.legislature.gov

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This post was revised to include the direct email address for the VLA Committee.