Maryland Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Defense and Study Bill (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                             May 10, 2011

 

Maryland Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Defense and Study Bill

Gov. O’Malley Fulfills Promise to Offer Limited Patient Protections

CONTACT: Morgan Fox, communications manager………………………..202-905-2031 or [email protected]

ANNAPOLIS – Maryland became the 16th state to remove criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana today when Gov. Martin O’Malley signed SB 308 as promised. The bill allows seriously ill patients to avoid prosecution when charged with marijuana possession and creates a commission to study medical marijuana laws and make recommendations on how Maryland can institute such a program. This is the first time since 2003 that additional protections were considered, and it’s an important step toward protecting medical marijuana patients from arrest and ensuring that they have safe access to their medicine.

“We’re very happy that the Governor signed this bill into law and listened with compassion to seriously ill Marylanders who use marijuana to treat their conditions,” said Dan Riffle, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “We look forward to the study group created here making helpful recommendations to further protect such patients.”

Under the new law, individuals diagnosed with debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer or multiple sclerosis, can avoid conviction if charged with the non-public use or possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. An existing sentencing mitigation will remain part of the law, meaning patients who don’t qualify for the full affirmative defense would still have the opportunity to present evidence of medical necessity and have their sentence reduced to a $100 fine. In addition, a work group consisting of medical, legal, and law enforcement experts would be convened to recommend more comprehensive legislation next year. Advocates hope to be able to use that recommendation to pass a bill that offers patients complete protection from arrest and prosecution.

The work group should have the ability to observe a well-regulated medical marijuana program run by their neighbors in the District of Columbia. In April, the District began implementation of its long-awaited medical marijuana program by accepting applications for licensed and well-regulated cultivation centers and dispensaries. That program should be fully operational later this year.

With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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Location: 
MD
United States

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