Daily Updates

April 9, 2013

Maryland lawmakers pass medical marijuana bill

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland General Assembly on Monday approved a measure allowing medical marijuana programs at research centers that choose to participate.

The state Senate approved the measure, 42-4. Ten of the Senate’s 12 Republicans joined 32 Democrats, while two Democrats and two Republicans voted against it. The action sends the bill to Gov. Martin O’Malley, who indicated he is likely to sign the bill.

“I’d like to read it first, but I probably would,” O’Malley told reporters.

The Democratic governor noted his decision would hinge on whether the bill includes provisions enabling the governor to suspend the program if the federal government decides to prosecute state employees who administer it. The provisions were included in the bill earlier this session, after Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Joshua Sharfstein said he would support the bill with the amendments. That was a change from last year, when Sharfstein expressed concern about potential federal prosecution.

Sen. David Brinkley, a Frederick County Republican, said concerns about medical marijuana violating federal law have been around for years, as more than a dozen other states and the District of Columbia have moved forward.

“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,” Brinkley said. “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 sick or their caregivers.”

Delegate Dan Morhaim is a Baltimore County Democrat and emergency room physician who has been pushing to get the bill through for years. He emphasized that the program would be carefully supervised by academic medical centers.

While state analysts have projected programs would not be up and running until 2016, Morhaim said now that academic medical research centers have had a chance to look over the details, they are taking a closer look. Morhaim said Sinai Hospital in Baltimore has expressed interest in writing, even if it has not yet committed to participating. He also said Johns Hopkins has indicated it would take a closer look.

“They needed to wait to see what the road map looked like, and now that they have, I think you’re going to see much quicker movement than people may have anticipated,” Morhaim said.

Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-Cecil, said he voted against the bill because he believes a comprehensive proposal on the legalization of marijuana for a variety of purposes should be put before voters, instead of piecemeal measures slowly moving through the Legislature.

“Let’s let them vote on it,” Pipkin said, referring to the state’s voters.

While advocates said the measure was well-intentioned, they said it didn’t go far enough.

“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 Amanda Reiman, a policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, in a statement.

The measure would create a commission within the state health department to oversee programs.

A participating medical center would be required to specify the medical conditions it would treat and the criteria by which patients would be allowed to participate. A medical center also would have to provide the state health department data on patients and caregivers on a daily basis. The department would also have to make the data available to law enforcement.

 

1
Text Only
Daily Updates
  • 10 Things to Know for Monday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:

    April 20, 2014

  • In Other News, April 20

    April 20, 2014

  • Ukraine, Russia trade blame for shootout in east

    Within hours of an Easter morning shootout at a checkpoint manned by pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement blaming militant Ukrainian nationalists and Russian state television stations aired pictures of supposed proof of their involvement in the attack that left at least three people dead.

    April 20, 2014

  • In West Bank, teen offenders face different fates

    The boys were both 15, with the crackly voices and awkward peach fuzz of adolescence. They lived just a few minutes away from one another in the West Bank. And both were accused of throwing stones at vehicles, one day after the other.

    April 20, 2014

  • Study: Fuels from corn waste not better than gas

    Biofuels made from the leftovers of harvested corn plants are worse than gasoline for global warming in the short term, a study shows, challenging the Obama administration’s conclusions that they are a much cleaner oil alternative and will help combat climate change.

    April 20, 2014

  • Fracking foes cringe as unions back drilling boom

    After early complaints that out-of-state firms got the most jobs, some local construction trade workers and union members in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia say they’re now benefiting in a big way from the Marcellus and Utica Shale oil and gas boom.

    April 20, 2014

  • In Colorado, a pot holiday tries to go mainstream

    Once the province of activists and stoners, the traditional pot holiday of April 20 has gone mainstream in the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

    April 20, 2014

  • ‘Capt. America’ tops box office for third week

    Captain America continues to vanquish box office foes, triumphing in ticket sales for the third consecutive week and dominating over megastar Johnny Depp’s new movie.

    April 20, 2014

  • Probe could complicate Rick Perry’s prospects

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry has spent a record 14 years in office vanquishing nearly all who dared confront him: political rivals, moms against mandatory vaccines for sixth graders, a coyote in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    April 20, 2014

  • NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

    Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs.

    April 19, 2014