I’ve written about LD 141 (click here) and LD 1081 (click here) – proposed bills that would place restrictions on the transportation of marijuana and on where marijuana can be smoked. Neither include provisions for patients whose daily lives would be severely impacted, and patients are the only ones who can speak to how badly.

These bills will not be the only ones looking to limit patient rights. It’s an unfortunate manifestation of the larger legalization movement that is sweeping the country bringing market and regulatory changes in its wake. Further, some patients give up their status once their states legalize adult use, and with decreased numbers, medical programs have less clout.

Unfortunately, Maine’s longstanding medical program will not be entirely immune to this money-driven trend, though Maine patients have more to lose than others if giving up their patient status. I’ve often heard out-of-staters talk about how great the Maine medical marijuana program is, how many freedoms we enjoy when it comes to home grows and caregiver access.

Patients are going to need to be active to protect our quality of health and life beyond simply maintaining our status as patients. Granted, it kind of sucks to have to be proactive about your rights to treat health challenges; it’s not like anyone expects cancer patients to have to fight for their right to be treated with chemotherapy, but if they also want to use cannabis, they may have to.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to help the cause, like direct contact with legislators. Testifying at hearings, submitting comments, and even personal, face-to-face conversations are great ways to educate elected officials about our daily lives. For folks who able to commit larger chunks of time and energy, there’s a group called United Patients and Caregivers of Maine.

If you’re new to political activism, don’t worry. This organization works in collaborative, supportive teams, and now has the resources to offer training materials, as well. Current members recently attended training conference in Bangor that has turned into an ongoing educational opportunity for interested participants.

Board member Dawson Julia of East Coast CBD’s in Unity helped organize and host the Janary 19th event. The facilitator was an experienced political activist who happily donated time and materials. Dawson said the facilitator wished to remain anonymous but explained to attendees that the time and resources were a chance to give back to a plant and a community that saved this person’s life.

Dawson Julia addresses members at the first United Cannabis Coalition of Maine meeting in Augusta in November.

The facilitator was thrilled with the energy and activity levels in the Maine medical marijuana community and wanted to help the community survive and thrive in hopes that more lives could be improved. The facilitator applauded the community’s efforts impacting legislation in and around the statehouse.

However, participants were encouraged to work “outside the theater of politics,” too, to take their activism directly to the people, and not just in rally form. The facilitator shared examples of activists using dramatic tactics and social media to highlight the issue at hand. When successful, the result is a public backlash that forces elected officials to address the changes activists were hoping to make.

Dawson said the roughly 50 participants stayed all day despite the fact it was a snowy Sunday and left invigorated. He was thrilled that the outcomes included brainstorming sessions for new strategies for the community’s activism and was grateful for the donation of materials for training new members and members unable to attend.

For more information about the coalition check out their website:  mainecannabiscoalition.com.

It’s important to understand who is behind the legalization movement in order to understand how quickly citizens lose control of the marijuana markets in their states. I got these screenshots from a post done by Compassionate Caregivers of Maine; note the names of the billionaires listed. With marijuana like other things, it feels like too much of our policy is driven by too few people. Click here to find CCM on Facebook.