Ron Fousek is a compassionate Greenie at heart. Last February when he started growing medical marijuana for a patient in Portland, Maine, he was one of only a few caregivers offering their services. Today, more than 100 Medical Marijuana caregivers are making growing marijuana a legitimate part time job. Fousek, who since has taken on four more patients, said he spends about 30 hours a week in his grow room where dozens of marijuana plants are in different stages of development.
Before you pack up and move to Maine, know this:
• Like patients, caregivers have to register with the state — a rule that took effect on Jan. 1. The state last week had issued identification cards to 113 caregivers and had more applications to process.
• Caregivers, who are limited to five patients other than themselves, have to pay a $300 fee per patient and can have up to six flowering plants for each of them.
• Until the first dispensaries start to open in late March, caregivers are the only legal source of marijuana for patients, unless they grow their own.
The state has allowed caregivers to grow marijuana plants for qualified patients since 1999, but previously there were few regulations.
In 2009, 60 percent of Maine voters approved dispensaries in 2009. The referendum campaign was driven by the Maine Marijuana Policy Initiative, a group led by Jonathan Leavitt. Interestingly enough, Leavitt shifted his support from dispensaries to caregivers after details of the law had been hashed out.
“We had envisioned small mom-and-pop dispensaries in every city and town…”
This last fall Leavitt’s advocacy group morphed into a trade association called Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine whose primary purpose is to lobby for caregivers’ rights.
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