Maryland Senate Broadens New Medical Marijuana Law

Maryland Senate Broadens New Medical Marijuana Law

By Shawn Dwyer 03/28/14

The Old Line State has crossed over into a new realm by expanding access to medical marijuana.

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On Thursday, the Maryland Senate voted overwhelmingly to overhaul their recently passed medical marijuana law in order to make the drug more widely available for patients in need.

The bill, SB923, was sponsored by Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery) and would allow for the certification of doctors by the state’s medical marijuana commission in order for them to give written permission to patients to obtain marijuana for medical purposes.

“SB923 is designed to make medical marijuana truly, actually accessible to the patients who need it,” Raskin said during Wednesday’s Senate debate. “We know that there are thousands of people in this state who are suffering from AIDs, leukemia, cancer, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis and other severe, debilitating and chronic conditions for which marijuana is indicated, according to their physicians.”

The bill passed in a 45-1 vote. On March 13, the Maryland House passed a somewhat different measure by a vote of 126-10 that also expanded access to medical marijuana. Both bills are expected to go to conference committee, where the differences will be resolved by legislators from both chambers.

"The Senate should be commended for bringing Maryland patients one step closer to finding real relief with medical marijuana," said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst from the Marijuana Policy Project. "Marijuana has been proven to help treat a variety of medical conditions, and seriously ill Marylanders should not have to fear arrest or risk their safety to obtain the medicine that works for them. We are hopeful that the House will agree with them, and we can finally begin to implement an effective medical marijuana program."