AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services announced Tuesday that it will soon require medical professionals who certify patients for the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program to complete the process using an online registration tool.
The new process will go into effect on Jan. 5, 2015, and its use is mandatory. No other form of patient certification can be accepted by medical marijuana caregivers or dispensaries beyond that date, though previously issued certifications will remain valid until their expiration date.
Kenneth Albert, director of the licensing division, said the new program will not compromise patient privacy.
“No personally identifiable data will be captured or stored in this process,” said Albert in a written statement. “The provider has a limited number of time to enter the information and once the certificate and patient cards are printed, the electronic version of the information goes away. The process is simple, complies with all federal laws regarding the protection of health care information and removes the department’s involvement in the relationship between the patient and their health care provider.”
Albert said the only information that will be retrieved from the electronic form is the patient’s ZIP code and whether the patient is older than 19. The collection of this information is required by the Legislature for annual reporting purposes, according to a news release from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Among other benefits, the program is intended to make it more difficult to fraudulently duplicate patient certification cards because the new printouts will use a background image that will not reproduce.
The Maine Medical Association and Joseph Lusardi of Maine Organic Therapy support the measure, according to the release.
“We welcome any regulations that improve the integrity and consistency of the Maine Medical Marijuana Program,” said Joseph Lusardi, executive director of Maine Organic Therapy.
The program will be paid for by existing fees.