The Maryland Senate on Saturday voted 35-12 to pass SB 627, a bill that would allow qualified patients to use medical marijuana with their doctor’s recommendation, and receive safe access to their medicine through state-licensed dispensaries.
The bill now moves to the state House. The General Assembly’s session ends Monday night.
“I’m very proud of my Senate colleagues today for voting to provide some of our most vulnerable residents with the compassion and care that they deserve,” said Sen. David Brinkley (R-Frederick), the bill’s sponsor and a two-time cancer survivor.
“Anyone who has watched a loved one suffer from a debilitating illness would agree that we should not stand between doctors and patients, or deprive seriously ill people safe access to a legitimate medicine if it can help them cope with their illness,” Brinkley said.
“We think this bill offers the most carefully crafted medical marijuana law in the country,” said Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Silver Spring), one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “It offers legal protection and safe medical access to patients who are desperately in need and takes every possible measure to prevent abuse.”
“I’m hopeful that our colleagues in the House will give this proposal serious consideration, and make Maryland’s medical marijuana law a national model for how to promote medical privacy, social compassion, and security in administration,” Raskin said.
Under current Maryland law, medical marijuana patients are provided with a limited affirmative defense in court, no protection from arrest, and no safe means of access to their medicine. Patients can still be given a $100 fine that results in a criminal conviction under current law.
Fourteen other states, including Atlantic seaboard neighbors New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Maine, have effective medical marijuana laws.
This year, more than a dozen other states, including New York, Illinois, Delaware, South Dakota, Arizona, and Kansas are considering medical marijuana laws.
The District Council of Washington, D.C., is working on a medical marijuana law expected to be implemented by the end of this year.