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Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

Morhaim wants apology from Hogan for governor’s remarks

Del. Dan Morhaim. (File)

Del. Dan Morhaim. (File)

A Maryland state delegate who is the subject of a legislative ethics review said he is owed an apology from Gov. Larry Hogan for saying the lawmaker could be kicked out of the General Assembly and had introduced legislation in an attempt to “get a license to sell heroin.”

Del. Dan Morhaim, D-Baltimore County, demanded the apology in a statement Wednesday and repeated his claim that he has done nothing wrong.

“Governor Hogan’s statements are patently false and he knows it,” Morhaim said in a brief emailed statement. “He owes me an apology.”

Hogan made his remarks at a news conference in Reisterstown announcing a state of emergency regarding the opioid and heroin epidemic in Maryland, including the authorization of $50 million over five years for addiction prevention, recovery and law enforcement efforts.

The governor then was asked about House Bill 519, sponsored by Morhaim, which would provide so-called safe sites where addicts could use heroin.

“I think it’s absolutely insane,” Hogan said. “As you know, I think today Delegate Morhaim has the potential for being thrown out of the legislature for illegal activities and arranging to get himself two (medical) marijuana licenses after writing the legislation and trying to put people on the commission. Now he’s trying legalize heroin. I’m not sure if he’s just trying to get another license to sell heroin but his proposal is idiotic.”

Gov. Larry Hogan (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

Gov. Larry Hogan (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

The bill, sponsored by Morhaim, an emergency room physician, would allow for the creation of so-called safe consumption spaces where heroin addicts can use the drug. The program is meant to help prevent overdose deaths while offer other services such as HIV and hepatitis testing and housing and other counseling. The bill, which is in the House Health and Government Operations Committee, does not legalize heroin.

Morhaim, who called Hogan’s statements false, had been a leading legislative proponent for the state’s medical marijuana program.

Douglass Mayer, a Hogan spokesman, said Wednesday afternoon that Morhaim should “not hold his breath” waiting for an apology.

“If anyone should be offering an apology, it should be him to his constituents and the people of Maryland for engaging in what is clearly unethical behavior,” Mayer said. “Furthermore, we are very interested in knowing what the status of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics investigation into his behavior and the status of the administration’s ethics reform bill. These are very important issues that the people of Maryland care about and deserve transparent action on.”

The delegate has been the subject of an ethics inquiry since The Washington Post reported in September on Morhaim’s consulting work with Doctor’s Orders, which had sought a license under the state’s medical marijuana program. Morhaim is not listed as having an ownership role in Doctor’s Orders and would not own any license granted to the company.

A correction in the Post article later stated that Morhaim had filed public disclosure firms that he had worked as a consultant and had earned money for his work but that he didn’t disclose his client because he was advised by the General Assembly’s ethics counsel that state law did not require him to list his clients.

“And of course, I have no interest in medical cannabis companies and did not obtain licenses for anyone,” Morhaim said in his statement Wednesday.

The work of the legislature’s Joint Ethics Committee is confidential by nature and members of the panel are barred on commenting on its proceedings except under specific circumstances. The panel met behind closed doors as recently as last month with regards to the Morhaim review.

Morhaim has repeatedly maintained that he has done nothing wrong.

“I strictly complied with the ethics laws,” Morhaim said again Wednesday.


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