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Feb-12-2012 01:00printcomments

Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced in Maryland

Panel of Experts to Advise Legislature on State Medical Marijuana Policy.

Medical marijuana
Medical marijuana's legal use continues to grow in U.S. states.

(ANNAPOLIS) - A pair of bills were introduced Friday in the Maryland House and Senate that would allow patients with certain qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana with doctors’ recommendations.

The bills, HB 1024 and HB 1148, are based on the recommendations of a study panel created by the legislature in 2011 and were introduced in the House by Del. Dan Morhaim. Senator Jamie Raskin is expected to sponsor similar legislation in the Senate.

One version of the legislation, championed by state legislators on the work group, allows doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients who could then purchase it from licensed dispensaries, all of which would be overseen by an independent commission.

The second version, put forward by Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Joshua Sharfstein, tasks academic institutions with distribution of marijuana. Both bills would protect licensed patients from arrest and prosecution. Currently, patients are only afforded an affirmative defense in court, but are still subject to arrest even if they’re subsequently able to demonstrate medical necessity.

Del. Cheryl Glenn has already introduced another medical marijuana bill that would allow patients to cultivate limited amounts of marijuana, in addition to establishing a dispensary system. Both work group models would restrict cultivation to state-registered growers.

"There are some differences in these two plans when it comes to how medical marijuana is cultivated and distributed, but the bottom line is that both reports support changes to the status quo,” said Del. Morhaim, the only physician in the Maryland House. “Physicians, law enforcement officials, academics, and DHMH officials – we all agree that something needs to be done. Remember that the charge of the work group from the Governor and the Legislature was to "facilitate patient access to marijuana for medical purposes.” It's now our job as legislators to look at these proposals and enact workable solutions that for many patients can dramatically improve their quality of life."

Senate sponsor Jamie Raskin echoed Morhaim’s stance. "Last session the General Assembly decided that it is not a crime for very ill people in the State of Maryland to use marijuana for palliative purposes in accordance with medical advice,” Raskin said. “What we left open was how such people can safely and legally access the drug. I'm determined that this session we come up with an effective mechanism for making medical marijuana available for the sick and suffering Marylanders who need it."

If any of the bills pass, Maryland would become the 17th state, along with the District of Columbia, to allow seriously ill people to treat their conditions with medical marijuana. There are 17 other states considering similar legislation this year. A recent Gonzales Research poll showed that 64% of Marylanders support allowing medical marijuana in their state.

Source: The Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana-policy-reform organization in the United States, responsible for changing most state-level marijuana laws since 2000.

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Alan from Maryland March 9, 2012 12:45 pm (Pacific time)

Our state nickname is "The Free State". Maryland never actually prohibited alcohol yet stumbles and falls where marijuana is concerned. Our govenor O'Malley has threatened to veto any law that passes that would put state employees at risk for federal prosecution if they participate in any state sanctioned dispensory, grow, or distribution program for marijuana. Politicians play the game and we spend tax money at the rate of $1000 an hour to have coptors seek out marijuana patches in the woods that get destroyed by armed goons. Now that makes no sense.

Malcolm Kyle February 13, 2012 2:32 am (Pacific time)

The whole world watches while we pepper-spray, taser and cudgel our own citizens for exercising their birth-right to assemble peacefully; The whole world watches while we strip-search and anally probe our own wheelchair-bound great grandmothers on suspicion of being terrorists; The whole world watches while heavily armed and masked government thugs break into our homes to ridicule, bully, threaten and murder us for using or growing a medically efficacious weed. The prohibitionist model is one of blind ignorance, abject failure and economic collapse. Its underlying ideology is one of fear, envy, greed and hate. Never have so many been endangered and impoverished by so few, so quickly! * Do you wish to greatly reduce, even almost eliminate the market in illegal narcotics? Then please help us to dismantle Prohibition enabling us to Legalize, Regulate and Tax! * Do you wish to bring about an enormous reduction in the presence and influence of organized crime? Then please help us to dismantle Prohibition enabling us to Legalize, Regulate and Tax! * Do you wish to reduce harm to the existing users and addicts - who may be your children, brothers, sisters, parents or neighbors - by allowing them safe and controlled legal access, which will greatly minimize the possibility of 'peer-initiation' and sales to minors? Then please help us to dismantle Prohibition enabling us to Legalize, Regulate and Tax! * Do you wish to see a reduction in the number of users or addicts, thus greatly curtailing drug related illness and deaths, while also reducing societal harm from problematic abusers? Then please help us to dismantle Prohibition enabling us to Legalize, Regulate and Tax! Three simple questions for the unconscionable employees of the DEA, CIA and DOD: How much is that fence going to cost? How much is it actually going to stop? Won any good wars lately?

Ralph E. Stone February 12, 2012 8:34 am (Pacific time)

Canabis dispensing clinics have existed for fourteen years and are legal under California law. Unfortunately, the Obama is prosecuting medical marijuana dispensing clinics in a major way. In a joint press conference last year, the four United States attorneys in charge of California announced that they will start prosecuting medical marijuana dispensaries for violating the federal law against marijuana.

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