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Marijuana No Longer Allowed for Income Deduction

In a change to policy, Maine citizens will no longer be able to deduct the money they pay for medical marijuana from their income when calculating eligibility for federal benefits. The Maine program that offers food stamps and other benefits uses income less medical expenses to calculate whether or not a person falls below income limits. Along with a few other states, we have been allowing registered medical marijuana patients to deduct the cost of their “medicine.”

But marijuana is still an illegal drug under the federal system. From their point of view, Maine is allowing its citizens to deduct for money spent to buy an illegal drug, just as if the person were buying heroin. That’s now changed as stories in the news brought the situation to national attention.

This parallels how the feds treat marijuana in other contexts. The IRS, for instance, doesn’t allow the cost of cannabis as a deduction and testing positive for the drug will lose a federal job, regardless of what state law has to say. Advocates of medical marijuana point out that the benefits program is a joint effort, funded both by the state and the feds – there ought to be some way to help these people. For now, though, the issue is off the table as too controversial to address.

BDN Maine talked to one advocate who said, “Once again this shows how out of touch the government is with its own citizens,” said Paul McCarrier with the trade group Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine. He said the Maine law was the result of a citizen ballot initiative, was passed by a wide margin and has strong public support.

He pointed out that this will only add to the out-of-pocket medical expenses the poor and the elderly have to shoulder, some of whom have great difficulty making ends meet.


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