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If Cannabis is legal now, why do I need a medical certification to buy here?

Now that recreational and medical cannabis are both legal, you’ve got a choice about where to get it. 

You might wonder what’s the difference, and why you can’t get the same products from recreational stores as you get from caregivers or dispensaries. 

The short answer: it’s complicated.

We’ll do our best to explain the situation so you can feel confident with whichever choice you make.

Different licenses, different rules

It starts with the growers. There's really no difference between medical and recreational cannabis. Farmers still provide the same love and attention to each plant (at least, the ones we know personally do). The difference is the way the licenses are secured here in Maine.

When Mainers first voted in favor of medical cannabis, it was 2009. Times were different then, and we know a lot more now. Over a decade later, the recreational program launched in 2020 with different goals and a completely different set of rules. 

One would hope that the new rules took into account all of the knowledge that the medical community had gained over time.  However, this was not necessarily the case.

As a result, anyone wishing to operate under both licenses — or to switch from medical to recreational — was faced with a confusing and daunting web of regulation.

Higher costs for recreational licensees 

The extensive new recreational license requirements were also much more expensive, making them cost-prohibitive to many small businesses. 

In fact, in 2021 and again in 2022, medical caregivers across Maine spoke up to overturn proposed legislation that would have changed the rules for the medical cannabis program to mimic much of the recreational requirements. Increased cost without the benefit of increased consumer safety was cited as the number one reason for opposing the proposed changes.

You may have noticed that recreational cannabis prices tend to be significantly higher than medical prices; this is the main reason. 

Safety first

Our intention is eventually to provide products through both licenses. However, the timing for that decision will be strategic. 

Because of complexity and cost, we must wait until the recreational program adopts rules that are less burdensome. We are hopeful that this process will reduce some of the disparity between the two sets of rules, particularly around safety concerns. 

In the meantime, we continue to advocate for fair and safe practices throughout the industry. We practice regular, voluntary testing. Our cannabis concentrates are tested for impurities prior to use, and we test individual finished products regularly to ensure a consistent dose and experience for our customers. 

We believe in transparency, which is why our test results are available online for our customers and patients to view at any time.  

Medical or recreational: which is right for me? 

Ultimately, it’s your choice. Each has its advantages.

Recreational is certainly simpler for the customer. You only need to show your photo ID and be over 21 to make a purchase.  

But for many adults, medical certification may be the better option. Here’s why.

Let's face it, cannabis is not right for everyone. So how can you be sure it's right and safe for you?  Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve used cannabis, and you’d like some guidance on which products and what dosage levels are appropriate for you.

With medical certification, you can ask those questions in private. You get answers from a medical professional over the phone, rather than from a budtender in a store full of other customers. You get a confidential review of any other medications you are taking, to make sure that cannabis is a safe alternative for you. 

Also, as we mentioned before, medical cannabis prices are almost always lower.  

What does this mean for Norumbega Provisions?

We're hoping that over time, the different requirements for recreational and medical cannabis will become less complex and easier to navigate, making it feasible to operate under both licenses. As advocates within the community, we're actively working to help make that happen.

In the meantime, we will continue to create and sell our products through the medical program. This gives us more control and lower costs that we can pass onto our customers. 

We have a Nurse Practitioner on staff to make it easy for new patients to get certification and to help answer any questions that may come up. Send us a message if you’d like to get in touch!  

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