Why Maryland is Not the 14th Medical Marijuana State

Oct 27, 2009 , ,

In news coverage of last week’s Department of Justice memo, there was a lot of confusion over exactly how many states have medical marijuana laws. Some outlets reported that 14 states have such laws. Others said 13 states. So which is it? And why the confusion?

The answer is 13. They are Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

But many media—as well as some government sources—incorrectly counted Maryland as the 14th state to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest and prosecution. Unfortunately, Maryland’s law does no such thing; the Free State has not yet earned a place among states with effective medical marijuana laws.

That’s because the Darrell Putnam Compassionate Use Act, signed into law in 2003 by then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R), falls short of the laws passed by the 13 medical marijuana states in many respects.

Here’s why: Maryland’s law protects patients from jail, but it does not protect them from arrest and does not give them any means of safe access to their medicine. Even patients using marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation are still subject to arrest, which has forced many to appear in court to prove they use marijuana because of medical necessity. While the law does protect seriously ill patients from any prison sentences if they can prove a medical necessity, it still allows for fines up to $100, and it gives prosecuted patients no recourse to seek refunds for legal fees. In many instances, the fate of medical marijuana patients in Maryland depends solely on their legal representation.

A proposal to create a state task force that would have re-evaluated Maryland’s current medical marijuana law died in committee earlier this year. But until reforms are passed, Maryland should not be included in the list of medical marijuana states.

Read more about Maryland’s medical marijuana laws and the latest legislative developments here.

8 responses to “Why Maryland is Not the 14th Medical Marijuana State”

  1. thanks for clearing that up! i’d been hearing “14 states allow the use of medical marijuana…” and it quite confused me.

  2. I have an idea. Why don’t all the medical marijuana needs patients, from all the states that continue to hold us hostage to their cruel and inhumane laws, join together and petition the non-profit pharmacies and others to help us move to a place where we can be treated fairly.
    A place where the summers are not too hot and the winters are a fun wonderland, resort like area, where there is plenty of things to do summer, winter, spring and fall. A place where we can easily secede from the United States and become our own country. A place where we could use solar and wind power in the summer, and wind and natural gas in the winter. A place where our numbers would be larger than the current population and we would become the majority of voters in the country. A place where we would rapidly get elected and then make our new country the new place to visit like Amsterdam is now. This place is the southern coast of Alaska where medical marijuana patients are treated like first class citizens already. We would own all the oil on the north slope along with major supplies of natural gas and the best place on earth to utilize alternative energy. We could legalize the use of cannabis for industrial and recreational use. It could take place in a few years tops. Just a thought.

  3. What MPP and NORML forget is that there are other states, such as Connecticut with even older medical Marijuana laws on the books. Connecticut passed (the 1st?) medical MJ law in 1981 and it is for Glaucoma and side effects of Chemotherapy. The problem is that the program has never been officially used, because it requires a doctor-written prescription, rather than a “recommendation” from a doctor, as the newer laws require.

    Because of the mess with the federal laws, no doctor can currently write a prescription?! Hello President Obama…can you fix this one too….lots of sick people in Connecticut and a few other states with these unused laws would be able to apply, if the President would also order the DEA to stop harassing Doctors for “prescribing” Schedule I substances… or if someone would get the DEA to listen to its own administrative judge who ruled that Marijuana should be lowered to a lower level such as schedule II or III.

  4. to dave:

    you see the government changing the schedule of marijuana to a class 2 or 3 drug would therein say that marijuana is now “legal” and they would think of it as sending the “wrong” message. the irony here however is that substances like cocaine (which are definetly more harmful if not fatal to you) are schedule 2 drugs, which i have not heard that doctors are able to write a “prescription” for. so we have to just work on full legalization like california and massachusetts are trying to do now of taxing and regulating.

  5. I live in Maryland and my Doctor would like to proscribe marijuana for my acute anxiety and extreme stress, I have had to deal with for more then 20 years as a result of contracting Lyme disease, for which I currently take 4 prescription drugs with various results and undesirable side affects. Maryland law forbids Doctors from proscribing marijuana for patients other then ones with chronic pain or with terminal cancer. I also work for the Fed. Gov. with mandatory random drug testing.I have been told by my employer even if Maryland law changes to allow me to legally obtain and use medical marijuana in Maryland, I would be fired under Federal law.

  6. medical marijuana laws that don’t remove penalties just seem a more obvious way to harass and track patients. And remember what happened to the mayor of Berwyn Heights’ dog? Maryland wants to keep marijuana use in the wild west with blazing gun fire.

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