In Maryland's conservative capital, where old-fashioned values are held so dear that it's against the law to crank up car stereos, a coalition is pressing for marijuana reform.
Members of the Maryland Marijuana Movement, a new group founded by an Anne Arundel Community College student, want Annapolis to become the second city in the nationto endorse using marijuana for medicinal purposes. San Francisco voters overwhelmingly backed adding marijuana to the city's list of available medicines last November.
"I'd like to ask the council to hear comments of the general public," said Joe Crigger Jr., handing the Annapolis City Council a petition from the group last night. "I realize this is a tough issue."
Alderman Samuel Gilmer, D-3, questioned the petition, saying that hiswife had died of cancer and "no doctor would have prescribed her marijuana."
He also asked, "How can we keep it out of the hands of people who should not be using?"
Eric Sterling, who once wrote federal drug laws, answered that the proposal is similar to those passed by 34 states and allows use only under a doctor's supervision.
Several dozen college students rallied on the steps of City Hall in
support of the proposal.
In Crigger's opinion, Annapolis and San Francisco could be kindred cities. While he admits Annapolis, home to the Naval Academy and an active historical society, has a more conservative bent, Crigger said he believes dozens of city residents support legalizing marijuana for medical uses.
"Because of the errors in the marijuana laws, they're denying patients a medicine that has been proven to be effective," the lanky 21-year-old Severna Park resident said in an interview yesterday afternoon. "We believe marijuana should be restored as a medicine."
Marijuana helps control nausea and vomiting, a common side effect of chemotherapy and other medicines used to treat cancer.
Last November, San Francisco voters approved "Proposition P," recommending that the state of California and the California Medical Association legalize marijuana to be used for medical purposes.
None of last night's speakers suffered from AIDS or cancer and needed marijuana to relieve pain. Crigger, who said he does not have any illness that would require smoking marijuana but enjoys using the drug "socially," said the group also has a goal of "decriminalizing personal use."
Drawn by blue fliers that Crigger handed out, 50 Annapolis residents and college students came just to hear the presentation.