ANNAPOLIS — State senators were faced Friday with an unusually difficult vote on a proposed amendment that would have changed the title of the state’s medical cannabis commission because it is named for the mother of a disgraced state delegate.
Former Del. Cheryl Glenn, D-Baltimore, was one of the leading voices in the medical cannabis debate in 2014 when the Maryland General Assembly legalized the program. On the Senate floor Friday, lawmakers danced around using Glenn’s name while discussing her crimes and whether the name of her mother, Natalie M. LaPrade, should be stricken from the official title of the state oversight panel.
Sen. J.B. Jennings, R-Baltimore and Harford and the top Republican in the Senate, said he offered the amendment to a bill to allow physician’s assistants to become certified providers in the program as a way of “removing the asterisk” on the name of the commission after the indictment of Glenn last year.
“The problem is the delegate; what she did was regarding marijuana and this commission,” Jennings said.
Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment against Glenn late last year, a week after she abruptly resigned. Charges included wire fraud and bribery. She has since pleaded guilty to corruption and bribery charges and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 8.
Jennings said he felt compelled to offer the amendment.
“Some people have gotten together and think it’s time … to clean up Annapolis and move on to strip the name and just call it the Medical Cannabis Commission,” Jennings said.
While the amendment failed, the resulting debate touched on themes of redemption and mothers, good governance and clearing names. Senators, who are largely guided by the recommendations of the committee on whether or not to accept an amendment, were left this time to the dictates of their own consciences.
“This is a tough issue,” said Sen. Brian Feldman, D-Montgomery and vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee, which debated a similar amendment in committee before sending the bill to the floor.
“I’ll be candid with you,” said Feldman, speaking to his colleagues. “There was no consensus in the committee and, therefore, Mr. President, this is one of those amendments offered that we’re going to just leave it to the will of the body. Anybody that wants to get up to make a point one way or the other, it’s up to the will of the Senate.”
Glenn’s mother was a cancer patient who ultimately died. The legislature, when it passed the bill legalizing the program, voted to name the commission after LaPrade.
“I’ve heard these discussions, but what I’d ask the body to remember is that while the delegate in question did some things I don’t think any of us agree with, this was in honor of her mother, who did nothing,” said Sen. Charles Sydnor, D-Baltimore County and city.
Some lawmakers, including Senate President Emeritus Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., invoked motherhood.
“We all have mothers,” Miller said. ” I don’t see any reason why we should change the name (of the commission) at this point and time.”
Sen. Malcolm Augustine, D-Prince George’s, also pleaded to defeat the amendment, saying that LaPrade was the one who suffered with cancer.
“None of us are perfect,” Augustine said. “None of us are perfect, but this is about that woman’s suffering.”
Ultimately, just nine of the Senate’s 15 Republicans and Sen. Delores Kelley, D-Baltimore County and chair of the Finance Committee, voted to strip the name from the commission.