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InvisibleDr. SiekadellykM
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[MD] Amendment would allow marijuana injection, prohibit smoking
    #527526 - 02/15/11 04:37 PM (5 years, 8 months ago)


Md. lawmakers shape medical marijuana bil
February 15, 2011 - delmarvanow.com

ANNAPOLIS -- Delegate Mike McDermott said he will vote for a bill to allow medicinal marijuana use if an amendment he has filed is incorporated into it.

The bill, which has a counterpart in the Senate, would make marijuana a Schedule II controlled dangerous substance and allow it to be prescribed by doctors in certain cases. Marijuana is now classified as a Schedule I substance, meaning it "has a high potential for abuse" and has no accepted medical value.

McDermott's amendment, if added, would require anyone with a prescription for marijuana to consume it through a vaporizer, ingestion or injection -- not by smoking it.

"I would have to see if any other amendments come flying on," said McDermott, R-38B-Worcester.

If his amendment is not included in the final bill, he is unlikely to vote for it, he said.

"With the amendment, it becomes a medical issue entirely, but I can't vote for it in the present form," McDermott said.

Currently, 15 states and the District of Columbia allow marijuana to be used by some medical patients. Last year, a medicinal marijuana bill was introduced and passed in the Maryland Senate but got nowhere in the House.

The bill introduced this year has 61 delegates and 22 senators sponsoring it, including Sen. Jim Mathias, D-38-Worcester.

"I support marijuana with a doctor's prescription in a controlled circumstance to help someone with a chronic disease," said Mathias, whose wife, Kathy, has been battling breast cancer for 14 years. "We have been fortunate to do it through her strength, but some people aren't that fortunate."

Mathias said he will have to look at the final bill when it comes to the floor before deciding whether to vote for it.

Delegate Norman H. Conway, D-38B-Wicomico, said he does not plan to vote for the bill.

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said NORML is always in favor of reforming laws so patients can get access, but said the law up for debate in Maryland is bittersweet.

"What types of diseases it can be used for seems to be overly restrictive," St. Pierre said.

According to the House's bill, to qualify for a prescription, a resident must have a chronic or debilitating disease that produces cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms.

"We haven't run those numbers, but in the past we have looked at existing data including HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy patients," St. Pierre said. "One out of those four could immediately benefit."

In 2003, Maryland's Legislature passed a law requiring criminal courts to consider the context of a defendant's use of marijuana in sentencing. If an individual successfully makes a case that their use was medically necessary, the maximum penalty allowed by law is a $100 fine.


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