BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Healing herb or dangerous drug? The contentious debate over medical marijuana takes a new step in Maryland.

Andrea Fujii explains patients caught with marijuana now have the law on their side.

Previously, patients who use marijuana for medical reasons would be arrested, fined $100 and go to court if caught with pot.

Now for the first time ever, some patients can avoid fines and charges for having marijuana.

“All they wanted was to be able to eliminate the fear of being arrested.  And that’s how you got to where we are today,” said Barry Considine, patient.

Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law the medical marijuana bill that was watered down from the start of this  year’s session after the health department and others objected.

“Drugs are so prevalent in our society; it just worries me,” said one legislator.

“It’s disappointing that we’ve only taken one more small step,” Considine said.

Maryland’s law stops short of legalizing the distribution of marijuana like in California where there are cannabis shops where a patient can pick up marijuana legally.

Former talk show host, Baltimore native and multiple sclerosis patient Montel Williams pleaded with legislators to make change.

His hope: “That patients can get off the battlefield and start living a life-like everybody else,” Williams said.

“It sounds a little too good to be true, maybe,” said Paul Lippner, of Baltimore.

Skeptics, critics and proponents of marijuana still wrangle with what to do with the drug.

“The jury’s out on that one,” said Donna Wittman, of Locust Point. “Not quite sure.”

Should Maryland legislators legalize marijuana entirely?

“You might as well,” said Sherrie Thomas, “if you’re one step below it.” 

“If you keep it this way, there will be too many loopholes to get through to get the marijuana,” said Kelvyn Scott, of Baltimore.

“If you need it, you should be able to use it, and it should be legal,” said Maria Maith, of Rosedale.

“I don’t want to take anything away from them, they’re already suffering enough, but I don’t know how you regulate it,” said John Railey, of Baltimore.

Proponents say the true success will happen when the federal government overturns its policy with drugs. Here in Maryland, it’s not clear what further steps could be attempted next session.

Maryland is now the 16th state to pass some form of legalizing medical marijuana.

Comments (51)
  1. Deft says:

    It’s catches me off guard when a Statist like O’Malley signs a pro-liberty bill like this one.. Well, credit where credit’s due.

  2. A.G. says:

    I think people that seek out marijuana to help with a medical problem are probably desperate for help. I’ve had quite a few health problems and drugs (pushed by drug companies) are rife with problems, among them side effects and exorbitant costs. Marijuana may be not an exception with side effects (and possibly costs, I don’t know). As a kid my parents let my brothers and sisters babysit me and my siblings smoked pot a bit which made me very ill from the smoke. But the thought it could help people with problems that “standard” drugs the drug companies push (who can’t or won’t find a solution for)? I say hurray! We need a better solution than our current drug/prescription situation and one more drug that’s been around for several thousand years cannot possibly be a burden on top of the current situation. Give us the California system at least, and let us work it from there.

  3. Laurel says:

    yipppee now we will have legally high people all over the place…another joke.

    1. johngrahm says:

      go through the pain that we do and you would be smoking it to…how many prescrption drugs have you done? but thats ok your doctor says they will help but watch out for those side effects they may kill you…

    2. Drew says:

      This comment shows how Ignorant people can be . Laurel , if You were to be having Cancer treatments or had any one of slew of other health issues I bet you would try Medicinal Maijuana if your quality of life was smular to that of a Cancer Patients or suffering from AIDS or any of the many Illnesses that Marijuana benefits. I Bet you did not know there is Marijuana out that WILL NOT get you HIGH … DO your homework before sounding stupid again … !!!!!!! You probably think tis safe to consume Alcohol and smoke cigarettes, Beat your Spouse and Steal from the poor !!

      1. Judy says:

        Sadly, Laurel’s comment shows a lot of ignorance and brainwashing by the corporate media. I’m very glad that the extract from cannabis plants has cured so many of cancer. The US government also holds a patent on this. Laurel I’m really glad my father will be cancer free soon, and never gets “high” nor smokes it. It is powerful ingested in a small amount.

    3. Sarah says:

      What about the people high on alcohol who kill people with their cars and fight and puke in alleys? THEY’RE “all over the place”!

    4. DOCSRUS says:

      Yeah we do but you just dont notice because most of them blend in perfectly with society.

      The Cannabis users arent the problem, its the drunks that are high on alcohol, or pillheads high on big pharmas oxycontin. The Cannabis users are mostly tame, well mannered tax paying citizens, at least according to all of the police stats that I can find.

      1. DOCSRUS says:

        My last comment was supposed to go under Laurels comments.


        “@Laurel says: yipppee now we will have legally high people all over the place…another joke”.

        Yeah we do but you just dont notice because most of them blend in perfectly with society.

        The Cannabis users arent the problem, its the drunks that are high on alcohol, or pillheads high on big pharmas oxycontin. The Cannabis users are mostly tame, well mannered tax paying citizens, at least according to all of the police stats that I can find.

  4. Dr. Nick says:

    now if the federal government would just pass a law to legalize and regulate the growth, harvest and distribution of marijuana we could stop forcing maryland medical marijuana patients to support terrorism with their medical marijuana purchases. not to mention the influx of new jobs and tax revenue created by the legalization of what is already america’s biggest cash crop.

    the antiquated “reefer madness” defense for the criminalization of marijuana is laughable at best. i find it hard to believe people still base their opinion on marijuana off a propaganda film from half a century ago, but ignorance is bliss i suppose.

    also, laurel, thank you for your input. you obviously know nothing of medical marijuana (or recreational marijuana use for that matter) but still felt compelled to comment. the internet sure is a wonderful place.

    1. DOCSRUS says:

      The government has legalized it but not our government! Our government has however authorized American manufacturers to IMPORT it from CHINA and Canada. But American farmers are still forbidden to grow it. Our government prefers to give farmers our tax money in exchange for agreeing not to grow anything including certain food crops.

      Manufacturers in America import hemp (marijuana) to make a variety of misc. items. I guess our dirt is sacred or something.

  5. MICHAEL says:


    1. Sarah says:

      No, Michael, because there are ZERO reported deaths associated with marijuana use.

      1. DOCSRUS says:

        And the CDC stats will confirm that fact!

  6. KSO says:

    everyones so ignorant. they are legalizing MEDICAL marijuana use. not RECREATIONAL. get it straight. if someone is sick and needs medicine they would get it correct? so? whats the problem here. you could find so many stats on marijuana vs alcohol vs pain medications vs cigarrettes, and YOU tell ME. which outta those 4 are the worst.. if we attempt to regulate how to get it, then we should be okay. california is still in one piece right?

  7. Sezamne says:

    Clearly A.G. does no know what he’s talking about!

    1. Lea says:

      He makes more sense than a lot of the “grownups”.

  8. whatnow says:

    No KSO, California is not still in one piece or don’t you ever watch the news. I really don’t care one way or the other about whether medical marijuana, or all marijuana, should be legalized. But I do think it is absolutely hysterical that people really think you can’t die from it or cause other injuries to your body. Get real.

    1. KSO says:

      It hurts your lungs just like smoking does, i mean, you are ‘smoking’ something. whether you smoke medicinal marijuana or your taking the THC pill, or ingesting anything with THC contained in its ingredients, either way, its helping someone somewhere. take a look at Robert Martin’s post. he’s been dealing with rectal cancer and the chemo is painful and effects his body in great deals. you dont understand how much pot can actually help someone in that position. You really need to stop being so closed minded and realize that it really is a good thing.

      1. DOCSRUS says:

        Why are you blocking my posts again? ever half of a bad word is somehow banned? EXcuse me.

        Just so I dont waste a perfectly good space, to @whatnow, im not sure where youve been for the past 100 years but according to modern science not only does Cannabis not kill people but it actually prevents or corrects a wide range of ailments such as Parkinsons, Alzheimers, Cancer, general dementia and more.

        See US Government marijuana patent # 6630507 for more details!

      2. DOCSRUS says:

        These are just for you @whatnow. Sorry to everyone else who has already seen these 1000s of times.

        Cannabis May Prevent Cancer:
        Federal researchers implanted several types of cancer, including leukemia and lung cancers, in mice, then treated them with cannabinoids (unique, active components found in marijuana). THC and other cannabinoids shrank tumors and increased the mice’s lifespans. Munson, AE et al. Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Sept. 1975. p. 597-602.

        Cannabis May Prevent Cancer:
        In a 1994 study the government tried to suppress, federal researchers gave mice and rats massive doses of THC, looking for cancers or other signs of toxicity. The rodents given THC lived longer and had fewer cancers, “in a dose-dependent manner” (i.e. the more THC they got, the fewer tumors). NTP Technical Report On The Toxicology And Carcinogenesis Studies Of 1-Trans- Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, CAS No. 1972-08-3, In F344/N Rats And B6C3F Mice, Gavage Studies. See also, “Medical Marijuana: Unpublished Federal Study Found THC-Treated Rats Lived Longer, Had Less Cancer,” AIDS Treatment News no. 263, Jan. 17, 1997.

        Cannabis May Prevent Cancer:
        Researchers at the Kaiser-Permanente HMO, funded by NIDA, followed 65,000 patients, comparing cancer rates among non-smokers, tobacco smokers, and marijuana smokers. Tobacco smokers had much higher rates of lung cancer and other cancers. Marijuana smokers who didn’t also use tobacco had no increase in risk of tobacco-related cancers or of cancer risk overall. In fact their rates of lung and most other cancers were slightly lower than non-smokers. Sidney, S. et al. Marijuana Use and Cancer Incidence (California, United States). Cancer Causes and Control. Vol. 8. Sept. 1997, p. 722-728.

  9. sharon says:

    I would like to know where I can get a prescription in Maryland for medical marijuana. I suffer from many illnesses and would like to know where I can get this help I don’t want to take any more prescription drugs.

  10. Get rid of the gate keepers says:

    The problem is the people who need it still have to buy it from street “vendors”. I guess it’s a baby step. Fed should just legalize it already. Take it out of the hands of Drug dealers and your war on drugs would be much easier. Not to mention all of the other uses there are for the plant itself.

  11. Philip says:

    Liberal agenda being served. How many of Maryland’s 5.5 million citizens have real medical need of this? I figure less then 1% (55,000 = 1%). California has had enforcement problems from the first day they passed their medical use law. Drug dealers are celebrating the passing of this Bill. There will be abuse of the law. Why can’t we process Pot like any other plant and extract the compound that heals and have it regulated like other pain killers? Instead a patient can use as much as they want to the point of excess. Folks there are plenty of crooked doctors willing to sign a persription for people who do not need this but want their daily joints. Soon they will be on the roads in your community.

    1. Judy says:

      You are a republican arent you?

    2. Sarah says:

      Why is it any of your business if it’s used to excess? People use alcohol to excess constantly, go bother them, they’re killing people and ruining lives every day. EVERY DAY.

    3. Consistency Please says:

      I don’t understand why Republicans don’t support this — you know, get government out of our lives. Why do we need the government to tell people what they can or can’t smoke, or swallow, or snort . . . why do Republicans want government to come between me and my doctor only when it serves their desire to force their moral ideas on me?

    4. DOCSRUS says:

      If Californias been having enforcement problems then perhaps they should stop pursuing victimless crimes and start focusing more of their efforts on crimes with actual victims. Im sure the public wouldnt mind.

    5. DOCSRUS says:

      Have a drink. The alcoholics agenda has already been served. When the Cannabis prohibition ends and people begin to discover the pros of Cannabis vs the cons of alcohol the world will be a much safer and more peaceful place.

      And do you really have to ask why we shouldnt process it, turn it into a pill and allow a handful of private companies to sell it back to Americas citizens? The plant in its natural form is already perfect. No improvement or modifications are required. Its inexpensive (until Big Pharma gets ahold of it) and is a cure for many ailments. It can be grown in ones backyard garden free of charge and without the need for public assistance or bankruptcy court.

      End the prohibition. If Big Pharma wants to commercialize it and if people want to spend their kids college fund on a round of THC tablets then more power to them.

  12. Tired of BS says:

    Sure, there will be abuses of this law on the recreational side, but lets compare that to the abuses on the legal prescription drug side. I’m for anything that could give a moments relief to someone dying of cancer, and if you still doubt the validity of marijuana use for someone dying of cancer perhaps you should sit with someone who gets a single moment of relief from the agony. Then judge its effectiveness. It may not work for everyone, but if it worked for your loved one, wouldn’t you want them to have it?

  13. The Lama says:

    Hmm so it’s okay for states, just like Maryland is doing now, to nullify the federal law which prohibits marijuana usage but if states trying to nullify the new federal mandated healthcare law can’t because nullification is a racist neo-confederate position. Wow the hypocrisy of partisan hacks is killing this country. Reinstate the 10th amendment for all!

    1. Annelise says:

      The federal government actually has a few people throughout the country that they send medical marijuana to already. They’ve been doing it for years.

  14. FUJIMO789 says:


  15. Legalize Marijuana says:

    The answer to the whole issue is to legalize the sale and use of marijuana. The government says it is a gate-way drug, it is not, alcohol is. More people die from alcohol related motor vehicle collisions than marijuana induced collisions. There are more cases of domestic violence related to alcohol (which is legal to consume, and is a mind altering substance) than marijuana. There are more instances of assaults related to the use of marijuana than with that of alcohol.

    The government asks how to regulate it, claiming this is a huge issue. The answer is simple, just like tobacco. The government can tax it and make a profit from it. It would be exactly like tobacco, just a different plant.

    I am advocating the legalization of marijuana. This is a mind altering substance (less destructive than alcohol), which can be regulated, taxed, and sold legally in the US.

  16. Zeph says:

    This is the oldest remedy on earth, you should be able to grow it in your yard. Big pharma has been poisoning us for years, they’re not interested in any cure. This is all political posturing bs. Want to find out where it’s going? FOLLOW THE $$$$!


    I AM ALL FOR IT!!!!!!



  19. Robert Martin says:

    I was diagnosed with stage 3 rectal cancer 6 months ago. Pre-op radiation and chemo for 8 weeks prior to my 1st major surgery. Five operation later, I’m now going through 6 months of chemo to make sure I’m cancer free. I’ve been prescribed an assortment of meds for pain and nausea, most of which were not worth taking because of their own side effects. Chemo is toxic. Because the single cancer cell is nearly impossible to detect until it reaches tumor size. Chemo targets fast growing cells, which cancer is one, but so is hair, skin and other cells in your digestive track. It kills them too. You get sick to make yourself better.

    I smoked weed back in the 60s and 70s, and walked away from it when I became a husband and father. No problems quitting, unlike the hell I went through to quit tobacco. Tell me which one was addictive. I went back to marijuana after my 3rd week of chemo hell, and I can say it has saved me. Tossed out the prescription stuff and started getting better. I’m halfway through my follow up chemo and have returned to work I went from a post-op weight of 138 pounds, to 165 and have remained at that weight for 2 months now which is great. I use a vaporizer to inhale my weed, so I bypass the dangers of inhaling smoke.I also ingest it with cookies I bake myself. I would love to hand these out at the chemo ward. So many of my fellow patients would be much better. My doctor agrees. He’s seen the difference with those who use marijuana. You can spot the potheads in the chemo room. We’re all getting on with our lives. we socialize and share stories, while other patients suffer, because of the stigma of the law. One patient is a WWII vet. His son got him to use marijuana, and he credits it with saving his life. He’s able to eat. With cancer, if you don’t eat, you will die. I use to think that marijuana had no ability to ease pain, but I never used it in my past to ease pain. Well, it does. And it’s not addictive. I went cold turkey on my pain meds following my major surgery. Took me 2 days and I would have suffered more if I didn’t have the weed. It took away my surgical pain. I couldn’t believe it. Worked better than the oxycontin and vicodin.

    I’m a conservative republican, and I praise O’Mallay for his bravery. All I ask, if you have any issues with the legalization of cancer, visit an oncology ward. Until you’ve caught cancer yourself, or have a loved one who has, you will NEVER know what this plant can do to add quality to your life. My only issue I have now is putting my friends in harms way to keep me supplied. I agree 100% with taking the drug money away from dealers. That’s another side of this law. Take away what empowers these dealers, and they will have to get a real job. Are we so blind to the damage done by prohibition? Like many, I’m considering growing a couple of plants myself. Notice I said a couple.

  20. Annelise says:

    I live in LA and I have so many friends with medical marijuana cards. There are people out on the streets in Venice Beach advertising their medical marijuana doctors offices, where you walk in, say you have back pain, and they give you a card. You can’t get much closer to full legalization than that. If you want a medical marijuana card, it’s yours.

  21. Drew B says:

    Thank You Governor O ‘ Malley … You did the right thing by signing this into Law . Stand your ground and do not let the DEA or the Department of Justice try to intimadate you into going backwards when finally we are heading in the right direction … Compassionate Care is what I call it !!!

  22. smokinember says:

    If you all look this same LAW has been on the books in maryland for years,I used a letter from my doctor in2002 in towson,and received 18 months probation,the judge did not fine me.(unsupervised).the charges were poss,intent to supply,and manufacturing.they found a grow light.the point is they did nothing,since then i tried the painkillers from perks to morphine and the jem of them all oxycotin,by the time i was tking 240 mg a day,lost 55 pounds and was withdrawing every 6 hrs that was last march since then i have weaned off the opiates gained back the weight and been clean for 4 months……thanks to weed well as clean as you can get

  23. Ken Cougnet says:

    I think that the war on drugs has been an expensive one and has caused thousands, if not millions of deaths. I dopn’t think the Government should be the ones making our choices. I believe the people should make their own choices either good or bad and live with the outcome. All drugs should be legalized so that the drug dealer, the drug runners lose buisenss. Tax them and if people want to kill their selves by using drugs, it would be their choice, not the government twlling them not to do it. How can we have freedom in this country when our choices are decided upon by government. Get the government out of our lives, let the people decide how they want to live. I do not use drugs, and teach my children it is bad, and if other parents are active and educate their children, then maybe they can make the right choices in life. That is better than government. We are all adults and need to start acting like adults and stop living off the government as your mommy and daddy.

  24. Ken Cougnet says:

    By the way, I am a real Republican ( libertarian). Ron Paul, Allen West, Herman Cain supporter. If you want to know what liberty is about, turn off the TV, and listen to these people speak. Either on you tube or in person. Wanna hear BS, watch foxnews, cnn, and msnbc.

    1. Consistency Please says:

      Now that’s what I was talking about — consistency. Thank you, Ken.

  25. KSO says:

    Robert Martin, your a strong person. And your right, no one will ever truely understand unless you’ve been in the position. Ken; all drugs? no, we shouldn’t, now thats just insane. smokinember, perfect example of how pain mediciations are slowly but surely taking down society. weed is not addicitive, and of course besides the intake of smoke, has no negative side effects. where alot of other mediciations do.

  26. RT says:

    You know whats sad, the fact that Delaware is one signature away from legalizing medical marijuana and dispensaries and we’re still stuck in Reefer Madness in Maryland doing little things that ultimately don’t do much. Where are these patients getting the marijuana? Drug Dealers on the street, teenage drug dealers in high school. Marijuana is everywhere and easy to obtain if you want it. all you have to do is ask around. Ask your high school son or daughter and they’ll obtain it for you. 20 million Americans smoke regularly, though I support this legislation, it’s not enough. We’re just pushing the can down the road and oh yeah BTW Patients still get arrested and they have to prove to a Judge (not a doctor) that they need the marijuana to get the Not Guilty Finding.

  27. Ed Payne says:

    It is about time. Like so many before me, one issue is how to regulate it. The feds need to take control and tax it like cigarettes. Then the windfall tax revenue would help out the debt. Grow the product here, use the hemp, stop importing. The real big issue is that once it is allowed to be grown and harvested, then a black market would still pop up. Hell, its here anyway isn’t it. What is refereed to as “Dealers). If it helps out one cancer patient or one person in chronic pain, then it is worth while.

  28. vaporizers says:

    Wow thats an amazing information, yould it help me utilize vaporizers in some way?

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