|Graphic: Marijuana Policy Project|
A hearing to receive testimony on HB 712, a bill that would make Maryland the 15th state to legalize medical marijuana, will be held on Friday.
Supporters and opponents of the measure are scheduled to appear before a panel of Maryland House members Friday afternoon to discuss the bill.
The Maryland House Judiciary and Health and Government Operations committees will hold the hearing on the bill, introduced by Del. Dan Morhaim (D-Baltimore County).
Morhaim, an emergency room physician who drafted the legislation, said it would create strict conditions compared to the other 14 states where medical marijuana is allowed.
The bill would allow state-regulated outlets to dispense medical marijuana to patients who have a recommendation from their doctor.
The state agriculture and health departments would monitor the production and distribution of cannabis.
Maryland already has an “affirmative defense” law under which medical users of marijuana can present the medical necessity defense in court and have their punishment reduced to a $100 fine.
In 2003, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. signed a bill that applies to defendants possessing less than an ounce of marijuana and who can prove they used marijuana out of medical necessity and with a doctor’s recommendation.
Ehrlich was the first Republican governor to sign a bill relaxing penalties for medicinal use of marijuana, despite intense pressure from the Bush Administration to veto it.