|Graphic: Cannabis Fantastic|
|An overwhelming majority of Maryland voters — 72 percent — support medical marijuana. Maybe it’s time for the politicians to catch up.|
A new poll shows broad, overwhelming support for a bill that would make Maryland the 16th state to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. When asked if they supported the bill, 72 percent said yes, with just 21 percent opposed and 7 percent undecided.
The survey informed voters of a bill pending in the Legislature that would allow patients with multiple sclerosis, cancer, debilitating pain, and other serious conditions to use marijuana with their doctors’ approval.
“I’m certainly pleased by the poll, but frankly, these numbers don’t surprise me,” said the bill’s sponsor, Del. Dan Morhaim, the only licensed physician in the Maryland General Assembly. “There’s a strong consensus among medical and scientific professionals that marijuana can relieve the suffering of those with certain serious illnesses, and there’s nothing controversial about relieving suffering. That’s what this bill is about.”
|Del. Dan Morhaim: “I’m certainly pleased by the poll, but frankly, these numbers don’t surprise me”|
Details of the poll showed strong support for medical marijuana across all age, partisan, and geographic lines Older votes were very supportive of the proposal: 77 percent of 50-64 year olds and 69 percent of those 65 and older supported the bill.
Democrats were more likely to support the bill, but Republican support was also very strong at more than two to one. And voters favored the legislation throughout the state, with 62 percent of those even in conservative, western Maryland in support.
A similar bill was passed in the Senate last year, 35-12, but stalled in the House. A key question this year is whether House Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Vallario will allow committee members to even vote on the proposal. The bill would need to be approved by Vallario’s committee before it could head to the House floor, where it would almost certainly be approved.
“I asked my doctor about this and she said marijuana can help me, so I certainly hope [Vallario] supports the bill,” said Chris Idol, a Cumberland resident with a rare movement disorder. “But regardless, all I really ask is that he give patients the fair up-or-down vote we deserve.”
The Judiciary Committee, along with the Health and Government Operations Committee, has scheduled a hearing for Monday, February 28 at 1 p.m. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will hear the bill on Thursday, March 3.
The poll, conducted February 18-20 by Public Policy Polling, surveyed 1,076 registered Maryland voters is available for download here.
Under current Maryland law, medical marijuana patients are provided with a limited affirmative defense in court, no protection from arrest, and no safe means of access to their medicine. Patients can still be given a $100 fine that results in a criminal conviction under current law.
The Marijuana Policy Project has more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide. For more information, visit www.mpp.org.