One of two committees considering medical marijuana legislation in Maryland has voted to send the bill to legislators. The bill already has the “conditional backing” of the governor and is gaining popularity among delegates, according to WBALTV.com.
“This is about patients. This is not just about legislation. It’s about helping sick people. I hope we are able to help sick people in Maryland in a safe, responsible and careful way,” said Delegate Dr. Dan Morhaim (D-District 11).
Lawmakers who support a medical marijuana system in the state are keeping the push centered on medical patients who would benefit, not the marijuana itself. Because, when it is focused on marijuana, opponents are often able to shift support away with the tired “Drug War” rhetoric.
“It does, for some people, have a physical effect, and out of compassion for these people, I don’t think we should be so rigid,” said Delegate Donald Elliot (D-District 4B).
As it stands, the bill would set aside certain academic medical centers to operate programs. A limited number of patients would initially be accepted and studied during their marijuana use. It also includes safety guards like the potential to suspend the program if the federal government threatens prosecution.
It’s likely the limited nature of the legislation and these safety valves that are helping it to gain support. Currently, in the House, co-sponsors have grown to 59 and 71 votes are needed for passage. Still, not everyone is convinced, and the same concerns being echoed across the country are being voiced here.
“This is going to be controlled, and it’s going to come from the state, and it’s going to be used for medicinal purposes only. It will be studied before and after. The main concern still remains that if this were to pass in Maryland, is this the first step to legalizing marijuana, which would be harmful to the state?” asked Delegate Neil Parrott (R-District 2B), who remains “on the fence”.
Those lawmakers who cannot decide whether or not to support the measure are usually hung up on the fact that we’ve been convinced marijuana is a highly dangerous and addictive drug—the federal government has it in the same classification as heroin after all. But, they don’t realize this war on marijuana is largely based on falsehoods and failed policies. Here’s hoping this relatively conservative effort at medical marijuana legislation will give Maryland lawmakers the insight they need into the harmless nature of the plant, particularly when used as a medicine.
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