There were some big moves in Maryland with regards to medical marijuana late last week. On Friday, state health secretary Joshua Sharfstein said that the governor's office would support measures that would create dispensaries in the state.
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This is a good sign for patients. Especially after last year when Governor Martin O'Malley balked at medical marijuana programs to create dispensaries out of fears that state officials implementing the laws would be subject to federal prosecution.
He said that since lawmakers from other states have not faced such charges, he is okay with Maryland moving forward. But there's a catch: the governor must have the ability to stop any medical marijuana program passed in the state at any time if the feds were to threaten to prosecute Maryland lawmakers.
Currently, there are three medical marijuana proposals before Maryland legislators. Two, proposed by Rep. Dan Morhaim of Baltimore, would establish a state-run commission that would be charged with running academic medical centers for research and distribution to patients. Currently, Morhaim's proposals are the only medical marijuana-related bills to get the nod from the guv's office.
Governor Martin O'Malley.
A third bill, House Bill 302, would also create a dispensary system but would charge the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene with overseeing the regulation of dispensaries and cultivation centers. Patients would be allowed up to six ounces and twelve plants, with caregivers being given exceptions to grow and store more than that.
The Huffington Post reports that the sponsor of HB 302, Del. Cheryl Glenn, says that she doubts the research-based models that Morhaim is proposing would actually benefit patients. She says her plan could be implemented immediately and is modeled after states like Colorado that have systems in place already.
Maryland legislators are also considering recreational cannabis laws as well. House Bill 1453 would legalize up to one ounce or less raw cannabis, five grams or less of hash, and the cultivation of up to three plants for adults 21 and up. It would also set up a state-regulated industry of retail shops and cultivation centers.