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Maryland Criminal Law Attorney | Two Paths to Marijuana Decriminalization

Author: Portner & Shure

With the legislative session soon coming to a close, both the House of Delegates and the Senate are seeking ways to bridge the gap between two different measures on the same issue: medical marijuana.

The General Assembly last year passed a medical marijuana bill that allowed academic hospitals to order marijuana for patients with certain diseases or symptoms. None of the academic hospitals took advantage of this provision as they feared it may affect their federal funding, as marijuana is still illegal under federal law. This year, they are taking a second look at the program to make it more accessible to patients.

The Senate has a measure to allow for the licensing of treatment centers where medical marijuana can be ordered in order to separate the growers and the patients. Both the Senate and the House are looking at versions where doctors would be able to "recommend" patients to use medical marijuana. This "recommendation" would be akin to a prescription, but because the drug is illegal federally, it cannot be called such. Despite differences between the two bills, many are optimistic that the House and the Senate will come to a consensus.

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