$3.3 million dollars in federal grant money earmarked for youth mental health programs across Maine was revoked this month, specifically because the state’s medical marijuana program allows the supervised use of legal weed products on school grounds.
According to the Lewiston Sun Journal, the millions in federal cash was part of a five-year grant awarded in 2018 that has provided $1.1 million a year for a statewide children's assistance program called Maine-AWARE. The state has already collected and used $2.2 million in funding from the program over the past two years, but was informed this month that the remainder of the federal assistance would be cut off.
In an email to a local school superintendent earlier this month, Maine State Commissioner of Education Pender Makin said that “a new requirement” in the federal grant program had relinquished the rest of the Maine-Aware funding “because of our state’s medical marijuana law, which requires schools to allow students who have written certification from their medical provider indicating their need for medical marijuana to receive such treatment while at school.”
Across the legal weed landscape, a number of states, including California, Colorado, and others allow for the administration of medical cannabis to registered patients on school campuses. In every instance, including Maine, those regulations exclude smokable cannabis, and require either a parent, guardian, or in some instances a licensed medical practitioner to help the student consume their medicine.
The federal government has long taken a hands-off approach to state legal cannabis laws across the country. But Maine’s lost funding comes after an apparent policy change in the Trump administration that will punish states that provide medical marijuana access to students.
“Because of these provisions in Maine law, we are ineligible for participation in the AWARE grant program,” Malkin wrote in her email to the superintendent.
Maine first passed a medical marijuana legalization law in 1999, and legalized adult-use cannabis consumption in 2016. But despite the reform progress, Maine has struggled to establish a functional regulatory framework for legal weed sales, and does not have dispensaries yet.
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