Maryland Lawmakers Pass Medical Marijuana Bill

The Maryland General Assembly approved a measure to allow medical marijuana programs at academic medical research centers that decide to participate.

The Senate passed a House of Delegates bill 42-4 Monday with bipartisan support, sending the bill to Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin opposed the bill.

"We have a patchwork of how we're approaching this," he said. "We need to look at it on a more comprehensive basis whether it be for medical uses or social uses, the legislature is going at this piece by piece. We should put it on the referendum, work our way through it that way -- one piece of legislation -- and that's my problem with it."

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"It's really important for people that this bill passed and creates a safe, responsible medical marijuana program," said the bill's sponsor, Delegate Dan Morhaim, D-Baltimore County. "As the only physician in the Maryland General Assembly, I'm very please that it passed, and it does good things for a lot of people."

O'Malley, a Democrat, has not personally said whether he will sign the bill. However, the state health secretary, who is a member of O'Malley's cabinet, has expressed support for the measure.

The measure includes a provision enabling the governor to suspend the program if the federal government decides to prosecute state employees who administer it.

It's not expected patients would be able to get marijuana under the program for several years, but the bill puts Maryland on the path to developing a framework to do so.

The bill goes to O'Malley along with a measure to protect caregivers who obtain marijuana for their patients or loved ones who have medical authorization to use it.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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