While the Maryland House of Delegates – the lower house of the state’s General Assembly – currently debates three proposed medical marijuana bills, their efforts may go for naught as Governor Martin O’Malley (D) would reportedly veto any medicinal cannabis legislation due to fears of federal retribution.
Unfortunately, Gov O’Malley is not alone among state officials; Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler has questioned the legality of a medical marijuana program in response to correspondence from Delegate Dan K. Morhaim (D-Baltimore County), sponsor of two of the bills.
State Health Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein has dropped support of all medical cannabis bills, including one he previously publicly endorsed, because of his interpretation of the U.S. government’s threats to prosecute those who participate in large-scale medical marijuana distribution. However, Sharfstein’s reluctance to endorse medical marijuana seems to run deeper than mere concern for fellow state workers; in 2011 he shot down efforts to legalize medi-pot by claiming there is no scientific consensus regarding medicinal marijuana’s benefits.
One of the bills, favored by law enforcement, would be tightly controlled with a selected educational institution dispensing the medicine. Delegate Morhaim’s preferred bill would create state-operated dispensaries to distribute medical pot to patients who receive a doctor’s recommendation.
The third bill, sponsored by Delegate Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore County), would actually allow patients to grow their own medicine and Glenn anticipates that TV talk show host, high-profile pot patient, and Baltimore native Montel Williams will testify on behalf of her bill.