Medical marijuana patients have a long way to go still before we’ll be taken seriously, and LD 141, a proposal dealing with cannabis in motor vehicles, shows us just how far. The bill proposes to prohibit “opened containers” of cannabis and defines what will be considered such. Click here to read.
The bill, however, fails to include provisions for medical marijuana patients, and that’s a problem.
The adult recreational use legalization movement here in Maine and elsewhere has proposed treating legal cannabis similarly to alcohol. The group pushing Question 1 back in 2016 was even called the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA). When it comes to recreational users, especially inexperienced and/or infrequent ones, treating alcohol and cannabis similarly in terms of policy and laws might make some sense.
Unfortunately, when it comes to patients, forcing parity with alcohol makes no sense at all, and worse, is a great disservice to our quality of life and health. Many of us find the comparison to alcohol offensive even. When it comes to patients, policy makers and law enforcement need to see medical marijuana the same as any other medical treatment, not alcohol.
For example, if I took antidepressants rather than using medical marijuana, no one would consider it a violation for me to have a partially used prescription bottle in my purse. I could get pulled over for speeding, and while law enforcement may ticket me for the traffic violation, I wouldn’t be charged for having my own prescribed pharmaceutical antidepressants in my purse.
Because my current antidepressant treatment is cannabis-based, LD 141 proposes making it illegal for me to have any open form of it in my purse or backpack while driving. That’s crazy.
LD 141 completely discounts patients’ realities in other ways, too. For example, what constitutes an open container for those of us who grow our own? Since the language in the bill refers to sealed containers, we home-growers are in trouble from the get-go. Mason jars are screw top or latch sealed, but I’m not in the habit of putting stickers on them every time I hit the road.
I’d also have to carry backup stickers to replace the ones I break when I take my medicine elsewhere, which is what happens when you use medicine to treat chronic conditions. It’s not like you’re always at home all the time; that’s just not practical in real life. It’s also not practical to remember to take a tincture bottle out of my purse and put it in the trunk every time I get in my car, nor should most tinctures be exposed to extreme heat or cold.
I had a chance to catch up with Hillary Lister, who said LD 141 received a divided report in the criminal justice committee and once the final language is approved, it will go to the House for a vote. Patients who are inclined to carry their medicine with them while operating or riding in motor vehicles may want to consider contacting their local representative.
LD 141 is a great opportunity to educate our legislators. If you have a personal relationship with a representative, have a conversation with him or her. If you don’t know who your rep is, we have links below to search and contact via the legislative website. We need to help our policymakers understand what it’s like to live life as a medical marijuana patient so they will keep patient rights in mind as they shape adult use policy.
I totally support the idea that policy makers don’t want drivers operating vehicles while doing dab hits or while getting clam-baked out by passengers. Provisions for patients are necessary in any legislation addressing this issue, though, because for us, any restriction to our right to carry our medicine is a restriction to our right to maintain our health.