To the relief of many Maryland residents, it appears that the State Legislature will pass a new law increasing the availability of medical marijuana. The Washington Post reported on March 17th, that the Maryland House of Delegates had approved legislation which would take medical marijuana which had been “legalized” in 2013, more available throughout the State. The bill will create a class of “Certified Physicians” who will be legally able to discuss the option of using medical marijuana and who will be licensed, in appropriate cases, to recommend its use. The bill would also establish licensed growers from whom a 30 day supply of marijuana could be obtained based on a prescription from one of these Certified Physicians.
This is not to be confused with the fact that Maryland State Senate approved a bill decriminalizing marijuana for non-medical use. The House of Delegates has not voted to approve the same bill, and it appears that approval of that bill is unlikely. If passed, the bill would treat the possession of 10 or less grams of marijuana similar to that of a traffic ticket where the cited person would simply pay a fine and not have to appear in Court.
Maryland is following a national trend that could ultimately bring two benefits to the State of Maryland. As early results have shown, the legalization of marijuana in the State of Colorado has greatly diminished the costs of law enforcement which, in these times of limited government budgets, can spend more time concentrating on violent crimes, and enforcing drug laws applying to what are clearly more dangerous and non-medically beneficial drugs, while also filling the State’s tax coffers. It will be interesting to see if, and when, Maryland takes this next step. In the meantime, there is great hope that the Medical Marijuana Bill will receive final approval from the State Legislature and be signed by Governor O’Malley who has also recently relaxed his anti-marijuana position.
Steven T. Blomberg, Esquire