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Maryland Further Decriminalizes Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town

Maryland on Tuesday became the 16th state to remove criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana when Gov. Martin O’Malley signed SB 308 as promised. The bill allows seriously ill patients to avoid prosecution when charged with marijuana possession, and also creates a commission to study medical marijuana laws and make recommendations on how Maryland can institute such a program.

This is the first time since 2003 that additional protections were considered, and it’s an important step toward protecting medical marijuana patients from arrest and ensuring they have safe access to their medicine, according to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

?”We’re very happy that the Governor signed this bill into law and listened with compassion to seriously ill Marylanders who use marijuana to treat their conditions,” said Dan Riffle, legislative analyst for MPP. “We look forward to the study group created here making helpful recommendations to further protect such patients.”

Under the new law, people diagnosed with debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer or multiple sclerosis, can avoid conviction if charged with the nonpublic use or possession of one ounce or less of marijuana.

An existing sentencing mitigation will remain part of the law, meaning that patients who don’t qualify for the full affirmative defense will still have the opportunity to present evidence of medical necessity and have their sentence reduced to a $100 fine.

In addition, a work group made up of medical, legal, and law enforcement experts will be convened to recommend more comprehensive legislation next year. Advocates hope to be able to use that recommendation to pass a bill that offers patients complete protection from arrest and prosecution.

The work group should have the ability to observe a well-regulated medical marijuana program run by their neighbors in the District of Columbia. In April, the District began implementing its long-awaited medical marijuana program by accepting applications for licensed and regulated cultivation centers and dispensaries. That program should be fully operational later this year.

Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.


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  1. Chris in WI on

    These state law/federal law conflicts may be what is going to start the final conversation that re-legalizes cannabis for adults to consume.

    However, the only thing that is going to end the war on drug users is removing cannabis from the controlled substance schedule. Not move it down, remove it.

    This is the way science works. Something is presumed safe until someone can demonstrate otherwise (you can’t prove something does not cause a disease, only that it does). From the studies I have read, and disregarding ones that did not follow strict scientific methodology, I notice that even if the origional hypothosis was that there were going to be negative health affects, they find either none or protective affects instead.

    Look at the huge study they did in 2006 (google “webmd cannabis cancer”) which found that cannabis only smokers had a slightly LOWER rate of lung cancer then the control group which smoked NOTHING. Cancer dot gov (yes a government website) even says that studies have demonstrated an anti-tumor affect (yes the evil marijuana plant, gasp!).

    “It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.”

    -George Washington

    We have absolute control over our own bodies, which is why a constitutional amendment was needed to make alcohol illegal. The SAME PROBLEMS alcohol prohibition caused are happening now!!! Violence and an uncontrolled, unregulated underground market that produces no tax revenue and 100% PROFIT to crime organizations.

    Why are we so blind not to see this is a civil rights issue, not an issue of “danger”. How can someone call a plant that has not killed a single person “dangerous”?

    Do you not know what the origional prohibitionists said about this plant? Do you think that prohibition was done for the good of the population? You are mistaken:

    The AMA showed up to protest the 1937 tax act against cannabis and as of Nov 2009 have adopted the position that it should be removed from schedule I. Don’t believe me, look it up. I’ve read the AMA’s position paper and I read the congressional testimony.

    Cannabis prohibition is one of the last remaining stains of racism on our federal law books. It should be removed now.

    I’ll leave you with a quotes from Harry Anslinger (our first drug czar):

    “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

    “…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”

    “Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”

    “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

    “Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing”

    “You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”

    “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”

  2. Hopefully Maryland will allow medical marijuana dispensaries to flourish throughout the state and patients to receive all the meds they need.

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