Annapolis, MD: Senate lawmakers on Monday voted 42 to 4 in favor of House Bill 1101, which establishes a state commission to promulgate medical cannabis research. House members had previously approved the measure, which now goes to the desk of Democrat Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is expected to sign it into law.
House Bill 1101 establishes an independent, 12-member medical marijuana commission within the state Department of Health. The commission will request applications from Maryland academic medical centers to operate 'medical marijuana compassionate use programs.' Members of the commission will decide which patients will qualify for the programs and will license growers to provide cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
Patients who consume cannabis for therapeutic purposes but who are not participants in an authorized medical center program will not be legally protected from arrest under the measure. (Under a separate Maryland state law, certain medical cannabis patients may raise an affirmative defense of medical necessity at trial.)
Separate legislative measures seeking to regulate marijuana retails to adults and/or liberalize existing criminal penalties to a fine only failed to make it out of the House Judiciary Committee before the close of the 2013 state legislative session.
If signed into law, HB 1101 will take effect on October 1, 2013. However, it is not anticipated that any state-sanctioned programs will be operational until well after that date.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director, at (202) 483-5500.