For many people in Montgomery County and across Maryland living with serious medical conditions, medical marijuana provides relief from the chronic pain and constant discomfort caused by their poor health. Despite Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's enactment of legislation that no longer made it a crime for patients to receive medical marijuana, many patients are still arrested and prosecuted for marijuana drug crimes. Now, a representative from Baltimore County has submitted two bills to the state House of Representatives that would protect patients that have a medical need for marijuana.
The representative is also a board-certified physician in internal and emergency medicines and was previously part of a panel that was mandated to make recommendations on medical marijuana. Ultimately, the group was unable to come to a consensus, so the representative transformed the two reports into two different bills, but his ultimate goal was to protect patients who have received a doctor's recommendation to use the drug and ensure that marijuana is distributed safely.
One of the bills requires that medical marijuana only be purchased from locations licensed by an independent commission. Patients would need a doctor's recommendation and doctors would only be able to prescribe marijuana after they had been properly trained by the state.
The other bill is more restrictive, requiring academic medical centers to grow marijuana and distribute it through their own physicians. Some medical centers, however, may be hesitant to grow and sell marijuana because they could potentially lose their federal funding. The second bill would also prevent hospice care centers from accessing marijuana.
The people who use medical marijuana in Maryland are often in desperate need of pain relief or require the drug for some other medical necessity, but the current legal landscape makes them criminals for using something prescribed by a doctor. Not only are they unable to use the medications that will keep them comfortable and healthy, but they also face serious criminal charges.
For more information about this, please read this previous post on the legalization of medical marijuana in Washington, D.C.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced In Maryland House To Help Patients," Lucia Graves, Feb. 10, 2012