Three Ways Maryland May Legalize Medical Pot

In recent weeks, Maryland legislators have proposed three separate bills aiming to legalize medical marijuana in the state. After essentially decriminalizing medical use last year, the bills aim to create a mechanism by which patients can safely access medical pot. 

According to the Baltimore Sun:

One panel plan, backed by Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Secretary of Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and a panel member, recommends treating medical marijuana as an investigational drug that specific research institutions in the state would be able to dispense to limited patient pools while studying the treatment's effects.

The other panel plan, endorsed by Brinkley and Morhaim, calls for creating a network of state-sanctioned dispensaries — and growers — that would work with physicians across the state, trained in recommending use of the drug, while also providing for data collection.

On Feb. 10, bills reflecting both plans were introduced in the House by [Del. Dan] Morhaim, who had said earlier that the legislation would mirror the recommendations of the two plans, and "overlap about 90 percent." Senate versions of the bills were expected to be introduced this week.

 But before legislators filed those pot proposals, the House of Delegates was already considering a bill sponsored by Baltimore City's District 45 Del. Cheryl Glenn (D),  which, unlike the aforementioned plans,  would allow patients to grow their own medical marijuana at home. According to the Baltimore Sun, this bill may be less likely to pass:  

Because of the home cultivation language, that legislation is considered by some to be less likely to succeed than the legislation directly supporting the panel-recommended plans, according to Dan Riffle, a legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project, a medical marijuana advocacy group that has been actively lobbying legislators in the state.

Medical marijuana advocates hope to see some form of medical marijuana plan arise from the bills, even if legislators decide on a model more regulated than one that allows personal cultivation.

"We want to move the ball as far forward as we can," Riffle told the Baltimore Sun, "But to the extent that Glenn's bill adds to the conversation, I think that's a good thing."

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at February 14, 2012, 10:26am

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