Maryland caregivers may soon have the same protections as medical marijuana patients in that state after the general assembly yesterday passed laws allowing them to possess up to an ounce at a time.
Laws passed in 2003 and 2011 allow patients to use medical necessity as a defense in court if they are busted with pot and paraphernalia. Caregivers would now have the same protections, which won’t necessarily keep them from being arrested but will allow them a valid argument in court. Charges could either be dismissed or dropped to a $100 civil fine.
The senate has already passed their version of the bill, and Monday the state House passed theirs. The governor must now sign the bill, though his aid says the governor is still considering what to do.
He has, however, given his support to a House-sponsored bill that would create a medical marijuana distribution program in the state, run by academic hospitals. But the bill’s sponsors seem optimistic: “We are expressing our velief that people who are sick should be able to access the drug without civil or criminal penalties,” Sen. Jamie Raskin, the bill’s sponsor, said to the Baltimore Sun.
Maryland is also considering two other marijuana-related bills this session. The first, which has been approved by the Senate, is a bill that decriminalizes up to ten grams of cannabis, making it a ticketable infraction and not an arrestable offense. A second bill would decriminilize marijuana up to an ounce and regulates it like alcohol. The House has not yet voted on that bill, however.
The Maryland General Assembly adjourns next Monday, though. So any action on the remaining marijuana bills has to come quickly.