Medical marijuana deal near

Lawmakers ironing out differences in plans to launch state medical pot program

  • The legislature should follow the advice of Health Secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein and create a medical marijuana program centered around academic research centers. Such a program could provide valuable research into the effectiveness of marijuana in treating the symptoms of various chronic diseases and would give the state a solid basis for creating a more expansive program in the future.
The legislature should follow the advice of Health Secretary…
March 31, 2014|By Erin Cox, The Baltimore Sun

Determined to revamp the state's defunct medical marijuana program, key state lawmakers have begun hashing out differences between the different programs approved by the Senate and the House.

Del. Peter A. Hammen, a Baltimore City Democrat, said Monday he would "fully anticipate" a compromise to be found by the end of the week.

At issue is how many growers would be allowed to operate in the state, and whether the patients could get marijuana directly from growers or instead through a system of independent dispensaries.

Maryland lawmakers passed a medical marijuana program in 2013 that relied on academic centers to distribute the drug, but none volunteered to administer the program. In the year since, patients have not had access to legal medical marijuana.

House lawmakers approved a bill that would limit the state to five growers who would also distribute the drug directly to patients with a prescription. The Senate, worried that system would create a monopoly, set no limit on growers and called for nearly 100 dispensaries across the state, none of which would have financial ties to growers.

Hammen said he and Sen. Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County, also a Democrat, reached some preliminary agreements on how to bridge the differences.

Under the tentative compromise, Hammen said there could be some growers who could also operate dispensaries, but that there should be – at first – a limit on the number of growers in the state.

ecox@baltsun.com

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