Last week, in separate and unrelated cases, two Maryland residents who use cannabis to control symptoms of a serious or chronic condition used their medical necessity as a mitigating circumstance during sentencing. As a result, both individuals received a $100 fine — the maximum penalty permitted by the State of Maryland’s medical marijuana law.
The first case involved Bill, a local ASA advocate and 50-something grandfather of two. Bill suffers from a rare, serious condition known as Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS). The case second concerned a nineteen-year-old woman who uses cannabis to control symptoms of epilepsy. They were both charged by prosecutors with felony possession with intent to distribute. ASA provided information to both defense councils, but I was honored to provide my personal testimony at Bill’s sentencing hearing.
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While the outcome is better than the alternative, the process patients are required are undergo underscores the need for real medical marijuana reform in Maryland. The bottom line: no one who uses cannabis in accordance with a physician’s recommendation should be treated as a criminal by law enforcement or subjected to fines or other penalties. Anything less than comprehensive reform leaves patients vulnerable to arrest and prosecution and wastes taxpayer money!