Maryland Gov. O'Malley to Sign Medical Marijuana Bill into Law

Maryland Gov. O'Malley to Sign Medical Marijuana Bill into Law

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will sign a bill into law Thursday, May 2, that allows people with serious illnesses to obtain medical marijuana via state-regulated programs administrated by academic medical research centers.

HB 1101 received final approval from the Maryland General Assembly on April 8.

Gov. O’Malley signed a separate bill April 9 that removes criminal penalties for acquiring marijuana on behalf of a seriously ill family member.

“I’m pleased to hear the governor has decided to sign this bill in addition to the affirmative defense for caregivers he already signed and very happy for seriously ill people in Maryland who are now a big step closer to being able to obtain medicine in an appropriate medical setting rather than having to resort to the illicit market,” said Del. Dan Morhaim (D-Baltimore), a physician who sponsored the bill. “I’ve long said Maryland should replace the dealer-patient relationship with the doctor-patient relationship. This law gives us a chance to do that.”

HB 1101 creates a commission through which academic medical research centers can apply to operate state-regulated programs that provide patients with marijuana grown by the federal government or state-licensed growers.

Program applications will be required to specify qualifying medical conditions for treatment; treatment duration and dosage; where marijuana would be obtained; sources of funding; and a plan for monitoring data and outcomes, among other things. Sinai Hospital has expressed interest in the program, according to Del. Morhaim.

“Maryland is one of many states around the country making strides toward more sensible, compassionate, and evidence-based marijuana policies,” said Dan Riffle, deputy director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Support for medical marijuana laws and broader reforms will continue to grow as more and more people come to recognize that marijuana is not just less harmful than most prescription drugs, but also alcohol.”

The Natalie M. LaPrade Commission, named for the mother of Baltimore Delegate and bill co-sponsor Cheryl Glenn, will be an independent commission within the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH).

It will be comprised of 12 members: the secretary of DHMH or his designee; three physicians; a nurse; a pharmacist; a scientist; a medical marijuana patient; an attorney with knowledge of medical marijuana laws; and representatives of the state attorneys’ association, the chiefs of police, and the Maryland chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.