The 2018 legislative session is underway in West Virginia, and several bills have already been introduced to make the medical cannabis program more workable and accessible for patients.
The two most important bills that have been introduced so far are HB 4147 and HB 4149. HB 4147 would require the state to begin issuing ID cards to qualified patients and caregivers in July of this year instead of waiting until July 2019. HB 4149 would allow patients to purchase cannabis flowers from dispensaries, rather than limiting patients to more expensive extracts.
Maryland’s comprehensive medical marijuana law took effect on June 1, 2014. Over 23 months later, no patients have been registered, no ID cards have been issued, and dispensary licensees are not expected to be announced until this fall.
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC), the state agency in charge of establishing Maryland’s medical marijuana program, announced another delay Tuesday in implementation of the medical marijuana law enacted over two years ago. While this delay is only a few additional months, it is the latest in a series of delays that will result in medical marijuana not being available until 41 months after the law’s enactment, giving Maryland among the slowest rollouts of a medical marijuana program in the nation.
While we appreciate that the commission is regulating an industry that is new to Maryland, this delay is unreasonable and unnecessary, and every day it continues is another day patients must suffer. Nine states were able to issue patient ID cards in less than one year, with the average being less than seven months.
Although Maryland law requires patients to obtain medical marijuana from a medical dispensary, an ID card would help patients use the existing affirmative defense, protecting them if they are arrested with their medicine. Please ask the commission to issue ID cards NOW and to make sure there are no more delays in getting patients the medicine they need.