Medical Marijuana, Decriminalization Bills Still Alive in Maryland's State House

- ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Two controversial marijuana bills are still alive in the Maryland General Assembly.

One bill would allow patients to use medical marijuana and another one would decriminalize possessing a small amount of the drug.

Lawmakers hope Maryland joins almost two dozen other states that allow medical marijuana. A bill to legalize marijuana in the state is dead for this year's session, but some lawmakers are pushing hard to allow people to smoke less than 10 grams of the drug without criminal penalties.

The medical marijuana bill would allow patients to use marijuana from a "certified physician." The patients could get a 30-day supply from a licensed grower.

"I've been a strong advocate for medical marijuana. It's 25 years ago I went through cancer treatments. The question always gets asked, no I didn't need to use it, but at the same time, when people who are very sick or they're dying or there's some other chronic malady, sometimes they have to go outside the standard network to gain some type of relief," said Sen. David Brinkley, (R) -Frederick/Carroll Counties.

The bill passed overwhelmingly in the Maryland House of Delegates and is heading to the Maryland Senate, where lawmakers say it's expected to pass.

Supporters say taking marijuana off Maryland's streets will help reduce the black market, but opponents say we should learn our lesson from other states.

"I think we only have to look as far as Colorado to see what's happening there and how that would affect the State of Maryland, especially being a small state and being so close to our neighboring states, I think we would create a tremendous problem," said Del. LeRoy Myers, (R) -Allegany/Washington Counties.

Another bill would remove criminal penalties for possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana and include a civil fine of $100. That bill passed in the Maryland Senate and is headed to the House.

"The courts have been burdened by this," Brinkley said. "Police officers need to be on the street, not doing paperwork for this to the point where they can just do a civil citation and move it forward is I think the better way for us to deal with that."

Medical marijuana is now legal in 20 states in the District of Columbia.

"I really feel like it's a national issue," Myers said. "I feel that we need to do a whole lot more research. I think we have the privilege of seeing a state like Colorado experiencing the good and the bad, but I think already they're seeing things like the food stamp program paying for marijuana. I think there's some things going on there that I know this state should not stand for."

Your lawmakers will have to work quickly if either of these bills are to pass. This year's session ends on April 7th.

You can read the medical marijuana bill by clicking here and the decriminalization bill by clicking here.

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