MAINE: Filing cabinets, gray cubicles and three-ring binders of department policy conjure an image of state government that disguises a more pregnant message. A reflection of the times can be found in heaps of bureaucratic paperwork, and in 2015, there is a clear image of an American population that enjoys getting high on marijuana.
Twenty-three states and the nation’s capital have legalized the drug for either medical or recreational use, and as resistance to usage weakens in the wake of 1970s court hearings examining the substance’s decriminalization, governments find themselves in need of computer systems that support a function with relatively little historical backing.
Both Hawaii and Maine, two states separated by thousands of geographic miles, have for years allowed marijuana for medical use, and last year recognized a need for better systems to keep track of medical marijuana registrants. Through partnerships with NIC, both states developed new systems that launched earlier this year.
Russell Castagnaro, president of eHawaii.gov, explained that the system was developed as part of a broader organizational change that transferred the state’s medical marijuana registry from the watch of the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Public Health. The governance of medical marijuana may have once been considered a matter of keeping the public safe, but in 2015, public health is the more salient issue.