General Assembly Workgroup Split Over Administering Medical Marijuana In Md.

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The debate over medical marijuana in Maryland takes a new twist.

Political Reporter Pat Warren explains, the workgroup assigned to determine how to administer it splits on recommendations for a plan.

There are Marylanders who have illnesses that compel them to use marijuana at the risk of arrest and conviction.

“And I didn’t want to do something illegal, but I was driven to eat and I was driven to feel better,” one woman testified in the General Assembly.

“Can I legally do it? No. Do I want to be able to get it legally? Absolutely,” one man testified.

“I was being arrested and taken to jail,” another woman testified.

Testimony in the General Assembly in favor of medical marijuana this year included Baltimore native and celebrity Montel Williams, who uses marijuana to ease the pain of multiple sclerosis.

“Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, period. Doesn’t go away,” Williams said.

A workgroup assigned to determine how to administer marijuana issued its report Friday.

It contains two proposals: One restricts use and oversight to teaching hospitals with research overseen by the health department. The other authorizes certified physicians to dispense marijuana to their patients.

Maryland’s Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene Dr. Joshua Sharfstein prefers Plan A.

“I call it a yellow light approach,” Dr. Sharfstein said. “I know there are people out there who want a greenlight approach. I don’t think the evidence supports that. I also want to say there are people out there who want a red light approach, absolutely nothing, and I’m not in that camp either. I’m in the yellow light approach and I think the proposal I signed on to is a reasonable way to balance these various factors.”

Of course, the General Assembly is under no obligation to accept either plan as is. They’ll have to hash it out next year.

Lawmakers who sponsored the legislation this year want the patient’s physician to have authority over the use of marijuana.

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