Maine Medical Marijuana Caregivers File Lawsuit Against DHHS

Maine Medical Marijuana Caregivers File Lawsuit Against DHHS

Pixabay / Wild0ne / CC0 Creative Commons

In an effort to halt implementation of new regulations governing Maine medical marijuana caregivers, two medical marijuana shop owners, along with two unnamed patients in their care, have filed a lawsuit against the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the state medical marijuana program.

Naming DHHS Commissioner Ricker Hamilton in their suit, caregivers Justin Olsen and Nancy Shaw of New World Organics allege that the new regulations violate patient protection laws by forcing Maine medical marijuana caregivers to provide regulators with confidential information about their patients.

Shaw and Olsen are specifically targeting a provision in the regulations that allows the DHHS to perform same-day inspections of caregiver grow operations and inspections of patient homes with one-day notice.

Searching a caregiver’s grow operation without a complaint, the suit argues, constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure and a violation of the 4th Amendment. Furthermore, Shaw and Olsen argue that requiring caregivers to divulge a patient’s identity is a violation of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

Speaking with Bangor Daily News, John Markham, the attorney representing Shaw and Olsen, said that patient privacy is the primary concern of this case.

“The most important issue here is the confidentiality of medical records of patients who use medical marijuana,” Markham said. “One day’s notice to inspect a private home [without a specific complaint] is not probable cause.”

No date for the hearing has been set. The new regulations are set to go into effect on Feb. 1, 2018.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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