Senate lawmakers today voted 42 to 4 in favor of House Bill 1101, which establishes a new 12-member 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 commission within the state Department of Health. The purpose of the commission is to request applications from academic medical centers to operate ‘medical marijuana compassionate use programs.’ The commission will decide which patients will qualify for the programs and it will license growers to provide cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Medical marijuana patients who are not participants in an authorized medical center program will not be legally protected from arrest. (Existing state legislation allows certain medical cannabis patients to raise an affirmative defense of medical necessity at trial.)
Full text of House Bill 1101 is available here. Once signed into law, the measure will take effect on October 1, 2013. However, media reports estimate that the programs are not likely to be up and running until 2016.