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(USA) Panel to design medical marijuana system for Maine

AUGUSTA — Gov. John Baldacci on Friday signed an executive order to create a 14-member task force that will help apply an expansion of the state’s medical-marijuana law.

“Creating a new pharmaceutical distribution system is a complicated undertaking,” he said in a statement. “Our medical marijuana rx goal is to follow the spirit and intent of the law while avoiding unintended consequences that could create serious problems in the future.”

On Thursday, 59 percent of voters approved a citizen initiative that allows nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries to open across the state. It also adds to the number of conditions for which marijuana can be recommended by a doctor.

Supporters said the dispensaries are necessary to provide a safe and legal way for patients to access the drug.

The task force will have until Dec. 31 to come up with recommendations after reviewing the application of similar laws in other states. It will consider public health and safety, and advise the Department of Health and Human Services on how to develop rules, according to the governor’s office.

Committee members have yet to be named.

Ten members will be appointed by the governor, and will include two members of the public, a physician representative, a patient representative, and someone from the Department of Public Safety.

Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell, D-Vassalboro, may appoint two senators and House Speaker Hannah Pingree, D-North Haven, may appoint two representatives.

The Committee on the Implementation of the Maine Medical Marijuana Act will be led by the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services or her designee.
By Susan Cover

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