A Closer Look at Cannabis in Maryland

By Max Davidson, Maryland Norml This winter, Annapolis was a hotbed of discussion for marijuana policy. I was fortunate enough to be on the ground for it all this session. From increasing grower limits to attempts to recriminalize public smoking, Delegates and Senators filed close to 100 bills pertaining to marijuana in one way or another. As Director of Operations for Maryland NORML and Legislative Director for 7Leaf Consulting I had the privilege to testify on several bills this session.

SB902/HB1452 Authored by Delegate David Vogt (R-Frederick) and Senator Ronald Young (D-Baltimore) which would have amended the Affirmative Defense law to include PTSD for veterans. The bill would have been sunsetted after the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Program began to dispense but unfortunately it was issued an unfavorable report by the Judicial Proceedings Committee like many other marijuana bills this session despite empassioned testimony by several veterans and family members of veterans suffering from PTSD.

I also had the privilege to testify on SB 1148 authored by Senator Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s) which would have amended the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Act to increase the licensed grower limit from 15 to 25. This bill was introduced late in the session and actually made it through the Rules Committee and was Co-Sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Nathaniel McFadden (D-Baltimore) during its committee hearing. Despite the late push it died in Judicial Proceedings like the others.

Speaking of bills that died in Judicial Proceedings Committee, Senator Bobby Zirkin, the Chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Notably stood by the voters of Maryland and issued an unfavorable report on HB 183 sponsored by Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D-Prince George’s) which meant to recriminalize public smoking just after it was decriminalized state-wide

So far only 1 cannabis bill has been signed in to law by Governor Hogan and that is an Industrial Hemp Research Bill filed by Delegates Fraser-Hidalgo, Beidle, Lam, and Morhaim.

Delegate Morhaim also Sponsored HB104 which would amend the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Act to allow for dentists, podiatrists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners to recommend Medical Cannabis has been passed by both the House and Senate and is sitting on Governor Hogan’s desk waiting for his signature. We are hopeful he will sign it into law.

2017 is the year for Legalization. There are rumblings in Annapolis that a ballot initiative for Tax and Regulate will move forward. Contact your legislators and tell them you support ending marijuana prohibition in Maryland.

Herbs The Word DMV.