Supporters Push for Medical Marijuana in Maryland

The debate over legalizing marijuana for medical purposes continues.

Capital News Service       

ANNAPOLIS - Less than a year after providing a legal defense for the possession of medical marijuana, proponents are now pushing for Maryland to legalize the drug for licensed patients.

Delegate Cheryl Glenn, D-Baltimore, has introduced HB15, or the Medical Marijuana Act, which would authorize the use of the drug in Maryland by as early as September.

Sixteen states and Washington currently allow some form of medical marijuana, but it is still prohibited at the federal level.

HB15 builds on last year's SB308, which provides an affirmative legal defense for anyone who can prove that the drug has been used for medical purposes. However, Maryland law does not provide any legal means for obtaining medical marijuana.

SB 308 was originally intended to provide legal access to medical marijuana, but a number of amendments were made after a House Judiciary Committee meeting last March.

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said at the meeting that more research was needed on the effectiveness of the drug as a medical treatment.

SB308 was revised to create the Medical Marijuana Model Program Work Group, a committee that submitted two proposals for medical marijuana legislation in its final report in December. Sharfstein served as the chair of the work group.

The first option would give academic medical research institutions such as Johns Hopkins University or the University of Maryland School of Medical distribution rights to medical marijuana.

The second would allow specially licensed doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients, provided they meet a specific set of symptoms.

Both proposals would leave cultivation in the hands of state-licensed growers.

HB15 falls more closely in line with the second proposal, as it does not rely on academic institutions for distribution.

The law would stress strict regulations that limit medical marijuana to patients with debilitating illnesses where no other effective treatment is available.

States such as California have passed laws that decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in addition to allowing medical marijuana to be used.

With HB15, only patients permitted to use medical marijuana and their doctors will be exempt from punishment. Non-licensed individuals can still be prosecuted for possession.

Last year's bill was sponsored by several delegates and senators, including Sen. David R. Brinkley, R-Carroll.

Brinkley intends to introduce a similar Senate bill in the following weeks.

DouglasLKerfoot January 24, 2012 at 06:47 AM
People should never forget that real health depends how well you take care of yourself and not what health insurance you carry but I agree health insurance is important for every one. Search "Penny Medical" or online for dollar a day insurance plans.
pfroehlich2004 January 24, 2012 at 04:04 PM
If you live in Connecticut and want to end marijuana prohibition in our state, please take a minute to visit www.ctprimaryproject.com. Please pass this on to anyone you know in Connecticut!
Jane January 26, 2012 at 04:45 AM
About a month or so after my husband died of terminal cancer, during which time I obtained marijuana for him (and it HELPED up til the last 2 weeks), then Gov. Ehrlich decriminalized it to a misdemeanor for having it in your possession for personal use only. The fine is only $100. Remember, Dems, that Ehrlich is/was a REPUBLICAN.
withavengeance January 27, 2012 at 04:31 PM
In addition, I feel marijuana should be totally legalized. Just think of all the people who would be put out of business...dealers, suppliers, illegal trafficking, cops, prison guards, lawyers..... Not to mention it would be a good source of revenue...control it, include the FDA, TAX it with some $ going to rehabs for the potaholics. This lousy state taxes everything else, with more to come this session. So why not legalize it and tax it too? Then maybe we wouldn't be up against yet more tax increases on other things and services. Oh, and here's a good question: How come states like Tennessee have a flat 9% tax on everything across the board, but has no state taxes...somehow that state manages as do others. MD citizens are Taxed Enough Already! Can't believe Annapolis wants to add or increase yet more taxes in this economic climate! Stop spending, for God's sake! Stop moving tax money around. Morons.


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