Md. House Debates Legalizing Medical Marijuana; Governor Likely To Veto Bill

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)– Making medical marijuana legal in Maryland. Big names pushed for the bill in the House of Delegates Friday.

Political reporter Pat Warren has the latest on the debate.

This could be another heartbreaker for supporters of medical marijuana. That’s because this time it’s the state and not the patients who are afraid of breaking the law.

Instead of simply looking forward to the future, 21-year-old Phillip Wagner is fighting for it. Diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma last year, he found himself in court for using marijuana to help him eat.

“It was actually at a traffic stop,” Wagner explained. “I was on my way home from a friend’s house and I was pulled over and there was marijuana in the car. I wasn’t under the influence. I was just trying to get home.”

It’s for Wagner and others– including himself– that Baltimore native Montel Williams returned to the General Assembly this year to try to legalize medical marijuana.

“My family is here, my relatives are here, my mom is here. Right this minute, she’s in the hospital. And this is an issue that bothers me because were this to pass, it could be helping my mother right this minute,” he said.

A task force produced two proposals, one of which Secretary of Health Dr. Joshua Sharfstein approved. But now we hear the Feds may step in and Gov. Martin O’Malley is backing off and the State Health Department, of course, is backing off with him.

“The bottom line is the governor and I are very concerned about the shifting legal, federal landscape that at this point, we are not comfortable with legislation that would put state employees potentially at risk,” he said.

Lawmakers still have the option of moving the bill through and passing it in both Houses but a spokesperson for the governor says he is likely to veto it.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have some sort of medical marijuana law.

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