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Maryland delegates pass medical marijuana

23 March 2014 By Jonathan Munshaw, Editor-in-Chief No Comments

Multiple bills dealing with the management of marijuana in Maryland are still alive in both chambers of the state legislature after a series of votes.

One bill would allow medical patients to use marijuana for medicinal use, and another would decriminalize possessing a small amount of the drug.

The bill that would have outright legalized marijuana in Maryland and put in a similar program to those which exist in Washington and Colorado died after the bill couldn’t get out of the House of Delegates.

However, when the legalization bill was passed, State Senate President Mike Miller told The Washington Post that a legalization bill is “eventually going to happen.”

The medical marijuana bill would allow patients to get a prescription for the drug from a certified physician. Each medical dosage would last for 30 days and could be acquired from a licensed grower.

The House of Delegates passed the medical marijuana bill by a large majority last week.

The bill is expected to pass the Maryland Senate as well, although no action had been taken on the bill as of this weekend.

Sen. David Brinkley (R-Frederick/Carroll Counties) told the NBC station WHAG that, as a former cancer patient, he wants to see medical marijuana legalized in the state.

“I’ve been a strong advocate for medical marijuana. It’s 25 years ago I went through cancer treatments. The question always gets asked, no I didn’t need to use it, but at the same time, when people who are very sick or they’re dying or there’s some other chronic malady, sometimes they have to go outside the standard network to gain some type of relief,” he said.

The decriminalization bill would remove any criminal penalties for a person possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana.

Perpetrators could, however, face a civil fine of up to $100.

That bill passed the Senate by a vote of 36-8, and now moves on to the House of Delegates for voting.

A similar marijuana decriminalization bill died in the House during the last legislative session.

“The courts have been burdened by this,” Brinkley said to WHAG. “Police officers need to be on the street, not doing paperwork for this to the point where they can just do a civil citation and move it forward is I think the better way for us to deal with that.”
Although Washington and Colorado are the only two states to have the drug legalized, 20 states plus the District of Colombia have medical marijuana legalized.

The senators and delegates will have to vote on the bills quickly, as the legislative session ends on April 7.

In a previous interview with The Towerlight, political science professor John McTague said he expects most states to legalize marijuana over the course of the next several years, similar to the path that the legalization of same-sex marriage has taken.

“It’s almost the perfect comparison,” McTague said. “I think it’s going to be harder to reform drug laws than marriage laws because of the infrastructure that is in place to fight this war on drugs. It’s going to be a state at a time. It’s not going to be like dominoes falling, it will be at a lag. But if you were to plot those public opinion trend lines, it’s the same public opinion on the [marriage] issue. It starts out as a small minority favorite, to almost half of the population.”

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