Setting the record straight on medical marijuana

February 15, 2011

After reading Mike Gimbel's letter about medical marijuana ("As dangers become clear, states shy away from medical marijuana," Feb. 15), some clarifications are in order.

Contrary to his assertion that "the state of Montana voted Thursday to repeal the state's six-year-old medical marijuana law," no such vote occurred. In reality, the Montana House voted along party lines to repeal the law. The Senate has not done so, and in fact is considering legislation that would expand on the law and bring needed reforms such as statewide regulations on dispensaries. Regardless, the law remains in place.

Most importantly, though, comparing Maryland to Montana is comparing apples to oranges. Montana's law was passed six years ago and is based on an initiative written by advocates. Maryland's proposed law is carefully crafted legislation written by the General Assembly's only licensed medical doctor, Del. Dan Morhaim. It includes sensible restrictions not included in Montana's law, such as enhanced penalties for diversion of marijuana to anyone who isn't a registered patient and requiring that patients have a bona-fide doctor-patient relationship with the recommending physician.

Perhaps that's why groups like the Maryland Board of Pharmacy and the Maryland Nurses Association support this bill and the concept that marijuana should be available to patients whose doctors recommend it.

As a cancer survivor who can attest first-hand to the benefits of medical marijuana, I hope for the sake of Marylanders with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other serious illnesses that the General Assembly acts swiftly to approve this bill.

Deb Miran

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