Maryland’s Judicial Proceedings Committee voted 7-4 Monday night to pass SB 627, a bill that would provide qualified patients with safe access to medical marijuana and protection from arrest for using the medicine that works best for them.
The bill now moves to the full state Senate for consideration.
“This vote represents the biggest victory to date for supporters of an effective medical marijuana law in Maryland,” said Dan Riffle, a legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
“I look forward to a productive discussion on the Senate floor, and I sincerely hope Maryland legislators will do all in their power to get this bill passed and ensure Maryland’s most vulnerable citizens don’t have to spend another year living without effective medicine or in fear of arrest,” Riffle said.
Sponsored by Sen. David Brinkley (R-Frederick), a two-time cancer survivor, and co-sponsored by Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Takoma Park) and key Senate leaders, including Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Clinton), SB 627 would not only protect patients from arrest, but also allow dispensaries to distribute marijuana to patients.
Maryland patients, despite not being protected against arrest, are currently provided an “affirmative defense” in court where, after being arrested, they can argue that their use of marijuana is medicinal. If their affirmative defense is upheld, they will only be fined $100 and serve no jail time under Maryland law.
Currently 14 other states, including Maryland’s East Coast neighbors New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Maine, have medical marijuana laws.
The District Council of Washington, D.C., is working on a medical marijuana law expected to be implemented by the end of this year.