A cloud of marijuana smoke is moving across the country, changing laws and the views of many people on the vilified plant. Maryland lawmakers are the latest of many to pass legislation changing how their state deals with marijuana, potentially making their state next-up for a tightly regulated and controlled medical marijuana program.
According to ABC News, the Maryland General Assembly passed the measure last week and now it goes before the Governor. Although the Governor hasn’t read the latest version, all indications are that he will sign it.
Governor O’Malley has previously stated he wanted to stay out of the spotlight of the feds. He wanted a safeguard built into the program that would allow him to suspend it if the federal government decided to begin prosecuting state employees involved in the medical marijuana system. State lawmakers wrote such a safety valve in.
Though there is no question the federal government disapproves of medical marijuana programs across the country, their threats have largely been empty, thus far.
“At the same time, I think more and more as states start pushing the envelope on this thing, the federal government has to recognize that some of these cancer patients—some of these people that are very sick—you know, they’re not doing this because they want to,” said State Senator David Brinkley (R-Franklin County). “They do feel that it’s perhaps an element of last resort, and the last thing we want to do is criminalize who they are, why they’re sick that they’re or sick, or their caregivers.”
The proposed system in Maryland would set allow medical marijuana to come from research centers that wanted to participate. The details have yet to be ironed out and the programs wouldn’t likely be up and running until 2016. No facilities have committed to participating, though Sanai Hospital in Baltimore and Johns Hopkins have both expressed possible interest.
“Maryland has taken a small step in the right direction, but more steps are necessary for patients to actually obtain the medicine they need to alleviate their suffering,” said a policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.
Small steps are better than no steps at all. And with getting medicine to the people who need it as a top priority, we are one step closer. If other states prove to be an example, the successful implementation of a medical marijuana program could eventually lead to marijuana legalization across the board.
Until that time, if you are accused of a marijuana offense, contact us for a consultation on your case and to see how we might be able to help.