Newsbrief: Medical Marijuana -- Yes in Maryland, No in Connecticut 5/23/03

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Medical marijuana advocates won one and lost one at statehouses this week. In Maryland, Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) signed into law HB 702, the Darrell Putnam Compassionate Use Act. Ehrlich's signature marked not only Maryland's first medical marijuana law, but the first time a Republican governor has signed such a bill anywhere. The bill, which does not legalize marijuana for medical purposes but does provide for a maximum penalty of a $100 fine, passed the Maryland legislature this year after several years of defeats.

There had been some concern that Ehrlich would not sign the bill. He had been a supporter of medical marijuana in his election campaign, but once the bill had passed the legislature, foes of medical marijuana, including drug czar John Walters, pressured Ehrlich not to sign it. That pressure didn't work, and Ehrlich signed the bill into law on Thursday. Maryland becomes the ninth state to protect its medical marijuana patients from jail and the second to act to do so through the legislative process.

Connecticut won't be the third state to do so, at least not this year. On Wednesday, the Connecticut House of Representatives defeated a medical marijuana bill on a vote of 79-64. The bill would have allowed doctors to certify that a patient needed marijuana for medical purposes and would have allowed patients to grow a limited number of plants.

In Connecticut, compassion ran up against fear of marijuana, with opponents worrying aloud that such a bill would "send the wrong message," that marijuana was not proven effective as a medicine, and that protecting medical marijuana patients was a back-door maneuver by the "drug legalizers."

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Issue #288, 5/23/03 Editorial: Outrage at Outrages | No Marijuana Possession Law in Ontario, Court Rules -- Cops Vow to Keep Arresting Users Anyway | Hip Hop Nation Set to Rock the Rockefeller Laws -- Mass Protest Set for June 4 if Laws Not Repealed | GOP Effort to Let Drug Czar Propagandize Against Reform Stalled in House Committee | Drug Testing Has No Impact on Student Drug Use, Study Finds | Stop the Murder of Thai Drug Users -- International Day of Action, June 12 | CNN Special Report on "Killing Pablo" | Newsbrief: Rosenthal Loses Motion for New Trial, Sentencing Date Looms | Newsbrief: Medical Marijuana -- Yes in Maryland, No in Connecticut | Newsbrief: "States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act" Reintroduced | Newsbrief: "Smoke a Joint, Lose Your Student Loan" Bill Introduced in Wisconsin | Newsbrief: House Committee Takes Slap at Needle Exchange | Newsbrief: Garcia Marquez Says Legalize Drugs to End Colombian Violence | Newsbrief: Scotland Yard Chief Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: British Government to Issue Guidelines for Heroin Prescriptions, Pilot Programs Coming Soon | Newsbrief: Australian State to Do Medical Marijuana Trials | Newsbrief: "Indian Hemp" Farmers Shoot It Out With Nigerian Narcs | Media Scan: Cockburn on Rosenthal, Forbes on Buying Initiatives, CNN on Bad Drug Raid | The Reformer's Calendar
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