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Maryland Senate approves defense for medical marijuana use

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland residents who can prove they have a doctor’s approval to use marijuana for medical reasons would have a new defense to avoid a $100 fine and a misdemeanor conviction under a measure approved 41-6 by the Maryland Senate on Thursday.

Under current law, a person who uses marijuana for medical reasons can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined $100 in Maryland.

“What we’ve done is we’re going to say we’re going to give you a complete defense, an affirmative defense, where you have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that you were using it for medicinal purposes,” said Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery.

The Senate bill, SB 308, was changed this month after legislation that would have created a state-run production and distribution system for medical marijuana stalled in the House of Delegates.

Caren Woodson, a spokeswoman for the country’s largest medical marijuana advocacy group, said Americans for Safe Access backed the bill as a step forward.

“It’s not ideal, but the bill will help patients avoid what is now a guaranteed conviction if arrested,” Woodson said in a statement.

Last month, Maryland’s health secretary opposed the earlier version of the measure, because he said the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene lacked the resources to oversee a system to dispense medical marijuana. Dr. Joshua Sharfstein said he supported a study this year to identify a more feasible option later.

The amended Senate bill would create a workgroup within the department to study a Maryland model for medical marijuana use for people suffering from serious illnesses.

The bill now goes to the House of Delegates.

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Online:

Read Senate Bill 308: http://mlis.state.md.us/2011rs/billfile/sb0308.htm

One comment

  1. NoOneKnowsEyeAmI

    Here’s my quick and to-the-point personal thought on this issue:

    I lost an eye to congenital glaucoma 50 years ago, and the only medicine that has relieved the constant pain AS WELL AS the subsequent and significant reduction of my inneroccular pressure (my medical records
    backup this claim), happens to be one that I must obtain through a rather frightening black market here in Baltimore.

    “Why don’t you grow your own?” I asked myself, then proceeding to produce ONE MEASLY PLANT A YEAR FOR MY PERSONAL MEDICAL USE- never selling
    or gifting my harvest to anyone, ever.

    The reward for my self determination, alieviation of pain, a halt to the horrible procurement process along with my embrace of the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are arrest, humiliation and a felony charge of “Manufacturing and Distribution” due to the current law’s archaic and unjust wording.
    I now face more jail time than someone who committed a violent and heinous act against his fellow man.

    Do I support change of ANY kind to the present law? The answer would have to be a resounding D’UH!