The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

April 9, 2013

Maryland lawmakers pass medical marijuana bill

(Continued)

While state analysts have projected programs would not be up and running until 2016, Morhaim said now that academic medical research centers have had a chance to look over the details, they are taking a closer look. Morhaim said Sinai Hospital in Baltimore has expressed interest in writing, even if it has not yet committed to participating. He also said Johns Hopkins has indicated it would take a closer look.

"They needed to wait to see what the road map looked like, and now that they have, I think you're going to see much quicker movement than people may have anticipated," Morhaim said.

Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-Cecil, said he voted against the bill because he believes a comprehensive proposal on the legalization of marijuana for a variety of purposes should be put before voters, instead of piecemeal measures slowly moving through the Legislature.

"Let's let them vote on it," Pipkin said, referring to the state's voters.

While advocates said the measure was well-intentioned, they said it didn't go far enough.

"Maryland has taken a small step in the right direction, but more steps are necessary for patients to actually obtain the medicine they need to alleviate their suffering," said Amanda Reiman, a policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, in a statement.

The measure would create a commission within the state health department to oversee programs.

A participating medical center would be required to specify the medical conditions it would treat and the criteria by which patients would be allowed to participate. A medical center also would have to provide the state health department data on patients and caregivers on a daily basis. The department would also have to make the data available to law enforcement.

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