ANNAPOLIS, Maryland — Last Friday, Feb. 26, the Maryland House Judiciary and Health and Government Committees held a public hearing on a bill that would allow chronically ill patients to have safe access to medical marijuana with their doctor’s recommendation—an idea supported by 81% of Americans nationwide, according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.
Dozens of witnesses—including physicians, patients, and former law enforcement officials—testified in favor of the bill, and no one testified in opposition. Fourteen other states have already passed medical marijuana laws. So why hasn’t Maryland?
Previous efforts to pass medical marijuana legislation in Maryland all failed to make it out of the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Del. Joseph F. Vallario , Jr., (D-Dist. 27A, Calvert and Prince George’s Counties). In the past, Del. Vallario has expressed concern over legislation that might clash with federal law. But medical marijuana should no longer trigger such concerns following the October release of an Obama administration memo instructing federal prosecutors not to target medical marijuana patients or caregivers who obey state law.
Just last week, a poll conducted by Conquest Communications in Del. Vallario’s House District showed support for passing this year’s medical marijuana bill outnumbered opposition nearly 3-1.
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“Sometimes in an election year you’ll see politicians shy away from controversial issues, but these polls show there’s nothing controversial anymore about medical marijuana – except maybe opposing it,” said Dan Riffle, a legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project. “Now that the federal government has given the green light to states to enact medical marijuana laws, there should be nothing stopping Chariman Vallario and others here in Maryland from listening to the will of their constituents.”