SANFORD, Maine — Eric Chipman doesn’t hide his medical marijuana use, which he says best treats the lasting effects of a severe accident he was in 40 years ago. So, during a two-week stay at Southern Maine Health Care in Sanford, Chipman told his doctors he was rubbing a marijuana-based lotion into his skin that relieves pain better than the narcotic drugs he tries to avoid. After making that disclosure, however, Chipman was told by hospital officials he was in violation of hospital policy and must remove it from the property.
Chipman, like other patients around the state, ran afoul of a hospital policy that is common in Maine, despite a state law that allows qualified patients to use medical marijuana. Because marijuana is illegal under federal law and hospitals are licensed by the federal government, they could risk being found in violation of their license, lose funding and face penalties. Also, because medical marijuana is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, clinicians are prohibited from providing the drug in a hospital.