By Mike Meno
Yesterday, a team of bipartisan Maryland legislators announced the details of two bills that would make medical marijuana legal and accessible for qualified patients in the state.
The bill’s main sponsor in the House is Del. Dan Morhaim (D-Baltimore County), who, as an internist and emergency medical physician, has been very effective at explaining why patients and doctors need access to a range of treatment options, including marijuana.
As proposed, the bill would allow patients with a “debilitating medical condition” to obtain marijuana from state-run distribution centers with the recommendation of a doctor with whom they have a long-standing relationship.
However, the new bill would not allow patients to grow their own marijuana, and they would have to try other treatment options before marijuana.
But if passed, the new law would be a vast improvement for medical marijuana patients in Maryland. Under current state law, patients are provided with a limited affirmative defense in court, but they have no protection from arrest or a criminal conviction, and no safe and reliable access to their medicine.
Under this new proposal—which has backing from a diverse and bipartisan group of legislators and has so far seen no opposition—those patients would no longer be treated as criminals, and they would have safe access to the medicine they need.