Medical Marijuana: Maryland Bill Passes Senate Committee, But Is Bottled Up in House

A bill, SB 627, that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in Maryland passed out of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Monday, but appears stalled in the House, where there is talk of postponing consideration of it until "working groups" hammer out concerns between now and next year.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/jamieraskin.jpg
Jamie Raskin
Introduced by Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County), the bill would allow physicians to recommend marijuana to patients suffering from a number of specified conditions, including wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe muscle spasms, and "any other condition that is severe and resistant to conventional medicine." The bill also envisions a system of "authorized growers" who would be licensed by the state to provide medical marijuana to registered pharmacies.

Advocates lauded the Senate committee victory, which came on a 7-4 vote. "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. "I look forward to a productive discussion on the Senate floor, and I sincerely hope Maryland legislators 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."

But with the legislative session set to end next week, companion legislation in the House, HB 712, is all but dead for now. So many concerns were raised by House members that supporters agreed to establish a working group to address them and that working group has recommended putting off any action until next year.

"We worked through, I think, all the issues. There are just some legislators who have an uncomfortable feeling and they can't really define it," said Del. Dan Morhaim (D-Baltimore County). "Bills like this sometimes take two years. I hope not, because every year that goes by, there's another set of Marylanders who are going to be suffering needlessly," Morhaim said.

One roadblock is House Judiciary Committee Chair Del. Joe Vallario. "The manufacturing and production are something that we're going to really have to look at," he said.

Another roadblock is cost and a tight state budget. Del. James Hubbard (D-Prince Georges), who headed the House working group, said the proposed medical marijuana program's start-up costs were an issue. "We don't pass bills without funding sources," Hubbard said, referring to costs that analysts believe would take to get the program off the ground. "And in this budget year, it's tough trying to find $40, much less $400,000."

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Medical Marijuana

Some people would rather support the pharmaceutical companies that push "legal" drugs that get otherwise law abiding citizens hooked. Then they are forced to "doctor shop" and when that come to an end they end up "street shopping" for their oxycodeine and oxycotin. This country and this State of Maryland makes less and less sense to me all,the time!

Why am I not suprised,

Why am I not suprised, polititions are too stupid to even understand it.
I just bought a plane ticket to California where I will be moving to within 30 days..

At least they care about their sick.

good luck in MD and VA. I've had enough of their bullshit.

A right step to change ludicrous laws

I smoke regularly for chronic nausea. I also occasionally smoke for an instant and non pharmaceutical cure for insomnia. Generally, when my stomach pains are bad, I only take one hit. It is an instantaneous cure for my ailments. While I do feel a slightly pleasant 'side effect', it isn't enough to get me 'stoned'. One hit every once in awhile also isn't enough to give me lung cancer. I will most likely die of something else first.

While I have used pot for recreation, it is not in excess. It is comparable to how often many of my coworkers have a few beers after leaving the office. It is so asinine to me that our government still feels so right about everything that they think they can tell us pot is bad, and attempt to control a personal decision for us as human beings. Our creator put cannabis on this planet so we could use it, not just as medicine, but as a textile and nutritional source. Pot is a miracle, and if you don't want to smoke it, that's your own choice. Legal or not, it is hardly going to effect the non smokers. People are high in public all the time.. and they certainly aren't causing nearly as much trouble as the drunks are. The only 'trouble' is caused when an asshole cop decides to make a deal out of someone trying to relax. If the person is violent, it certainly does not have to do with the cannabis, as THC has been proven to do the opposite to one's mood.

If I get high, I'm most likely going to do something laid back- like watch a movie, eat a snickers, and peacefully fall asleep. That's a crime? For real?
No. That's a joke. That is also the reality of the state of our nation's drug laws.

This is a step. I hope the House gets it together and pushes it through. There are people out there dying of cancer and AIDS who swear by cannabis for relief. They are dying, and our government has been choosing to turn its shoulder! Its okay, right? We can just keep doping them up with Oxycontin(basically heroin) and not give them any other options. Psshhh.

Obstacles?

I realize that older or more conservative legislators will naturally have a difficult time swallowing this bill. However, I do not understand the concerns of high start-up costs of this type of legislation. As other east coast states have done, create licensed and regulated, privately operated dispensaries and growing facilities that operate as non-profit entities. Start-up costs for these facilities would be left for the private groups to raise (fund raising for medical marijuana will NEVER be an issue) and the state of Maryland would of course imply hefty tax.

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