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First Maryland medical marijuana clinic open in Annapolis

MARYLAND:  The first specialty clinic for medical marijuana opened in Annapolis last month and has seen more than 100 prospective patients — even though the Maryland Medical Cannabis Program isn’t expected to be operational for another year.

Greenway Consultation, located in the Conte Lubrano Office Building, has three consultants and three physicians, who are not yet registered to recommend the drug through the Maryland Medical Cannibis Commission. The commission develops and oversees all licensing, registration, inspection and testing.

The clinic’s spokesman Nick Petrucci said opening in advance of the program has advantages, such as beginning to build the patient-doctor relationship to expedite a recommendation for marijuana when the program begins.

Medical Marijuana Moves Closer To Reality In Maryland

MARYLAND:  With the state publishing draft regulations for medical marijuana and an infrastructure for growing and distributing it coming into view, Marylanders who suffer from chronic pain or debilitating disease could gain access to the drug by the middle of next year.

The rules developed by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, which cover doctor registration, licensing, fees and other concerns, were published last week. The state is accepting public comment on the rules through July 27.

“This is a big step in the right direction,” said Del. Dan K. Morhaim, a physician who championed the legalization of medical marijuana in the General Assembly. “This should make the program operational, though there should be adjustments every year or so for the next few years as we learn from our experience.”

Pot May Have Been Decriminalized In Maryland, But Bongs Are Still Illegal

MARYLAND:  An anomaly in Maryland’s marijuana laws will remain in place after Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a bill that passed the General Assembly.

Decriminalization of marijuana got the approval of lawmakers last year. But this year the General Assembly sought to correct an oversight in the original law regarding marijuana paraphernalia.

While possession of 10 grams or less of the drug can no longer put someone in prison, possessing the means to use it — like a pipe or a bong— still can. Supporters say that’s like ending alcohol prohibition but keeping wine glasses illegal.

A bill decriminalizing marijuana paraphernalia passed the General Assembly this year, but paraphernalia isn’t why Hogan will veto it, a move made at the urging of Maryland’s State’s Attorney’s, Chiefs of Police, and Sheriff’s Associations.

Maryland SGA Passes Resolution Supporting Marijuana Legalization

MARYLAND:  Shortly after Washington legalized limited possession and cultivation of marijuana Nov. 4, the SGA pushed forward with legislation of its own.

The Student Government Association passed a resolution supporting the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana with a 19-4 vote Nov. 5. Two voters abstained.

 “We decided to bring it up now especially because of the legalization in D.C. that passed on Election Day,” said Aditya Dilip, a senior government and politics major and member of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, which wrote the resolution. “We figured it was time, and it was something that was interesting and something that needed to be addressed sooner or later.”
Luke Pinton, senior government and politics major and SGA director of governmental affairs, said that while there are no immediate next steps, the SGA intends to use the resolution to express student body support if this state — which decriminalized possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana Oct. 1 — begins to make strides toward legalization.

Medical Marijuana Fees Stir Debate In Maryland

MARYLAND:  With Maryland’s proposed licensing fees for growing and selling medical marijuana among the highest in the nation, some advocates warn that the steep costs could drive off applicants, crippling the nascent program and limiting access to treatment for tens of thousands of state residents.

Prospective medical marijuana growers would have to pay $125,000 a year for a two-year license, while dispensaries would have to pay $40,000 a year, according to the recommendations of a state commission. Only one state — Illinois — is charging a higher upfront cost for growers.

Del. Cheryl D. Glenn, a lead sponsor of Maryland’s medical marijuana law, called the proposed fees “outrageous.” The 15-member medical marijuana commission is named for Natalie M. LaPrade, Glenn’s mother, who died in 2011 of kidney cancer.

The Baltimore Democrat fears the steep costs could shut out small businesses and increase retail prices so much that marijuana would be unaffordable for some patients. “We have the haves and have-nots all over again,” she said. “That’s ridiculous.”



Maryland Set To Decriminalize Marijuana

MARYLAND:  Maryland is set to become the latest state to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession.

Beginning Wednesday, Maryland will join 17 other states and Washington, D.C. that have decriminalized or legalized marijuana possession. In addition, Missouri passed a similar bill this year, which will make it the 19th state to do so when it goes into effect.

“Decriminalizing possession of marijuana is a key step on the road to saner drug policy in Maryland,” said Sara Love, public policy director for the ACLU of Maryland, in a statement. “For too long, tens of thousands of Marylanders, disproportionately Black Marylanders, have faced life-altering criminal penalties simply for possessing a substance most voters believe should be legalized. Going forward, we hope that legislators will seriously consider sensible legislation to regulate and tax marijuana.”

According to state law, possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana will now be a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense and up to $500 for subsequent offenses.



Maryland Pot Laws Change Oct. 1

MARYLAND:  Maryland’s marijuana laws change on Wednesday, Oct. 1. Along with that come changes — albeit not many — to the way police approach marijuana possession.

In the last general assembly, lawmakers passed legislation that decriminalized possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, making it a civil offense instead of a criminal offense.

Civil offenses do not require jail time. Those charged with possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana will now face fines of up to $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second and $500 for the third.

A drug education program and drug abuse disorder testing is required for third or subsequent offenses, along with a trip to court. Those who are 18 or older, but younger than 21, will be required to see a judge from the first offense.


Medical Marijuana Rules For Maryland Doctors Raise Concerns

MARYLAND:  Proposed rules for Maryland‘s nascent medical marijuana system are drawing objections from a leading advocate, who says the regulations could discourage doctors from participating.

Del. Dan K. Morhaim, one of the chief sponsors of the legislation, criticized the draft regulations for requiring training and continued education in the medical use of marijuana for physicians who want to help their patients access the drug.

“Please don’t create any barriers for physicians,” Morhaim, a Baltimore County Democrat and the General Assembly’s only physician, told the state’s Medical Marijuana Commission at a hearing this week.

Morhaim warned that requiring continuing medical education could deter doctors because, he said, courses on marijuana are not readily available. He also questioned the need for doctors to take periodic courses on marijuana when they don’t have to do so for more dangerous drugs they prescribe.



Maryland Gov. O’Malley Will Sign Marijuana Decriminalization Bill, He Says

MARYLAND:  Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said Monday that he will sign a bill decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

On a 34-to-8 vote, the Senate gave final approval to the legislation Monday afternoon. The bill would impose only civil fines, rather than criminal sanctions, on those caught with less than 10 grams of the drug.

At least 24 other states now have either decriminalized the use of marijuana, approved it for medicinal purposes or legalized it outright, according to a study by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Maryland House Of Delegates Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

MARYLAND: It’s not a law yet, but it’s right on the edge. If the governor goes along, getting busted for pot won’t mean jail, provided those joints don’t contain to too much marijuana.

Right now in Maryland, if you’re caught with enough marijuana to roll one joint or enough to fill a greenhouse, it’s a criminal offense. But in a Saturday night session, the House of Delegates took up a Senate bill that would change that law.

“They key is there will be civil penalties instead of criminal penalties for small amounts of marijuana,” said Del. Kieffer Mitchell Jr., (D) Baltimore.