Another Small Step: Protecting Patients from Arrest in Maryland

[caption id="attachment_2438" align="alignnone" width="201" caption="Gov. O'Malley"]

Patients Not Criminals!

While the Maryland medical cannabis community entered the 2012 legislative session with high hopes because of three bills in the house proposing medical cannabis access points, the Governor O'Malley has come out in opposition of any bill naming any state agency as a regulatory body for the program fearing threats of federal prosecution of Maryland state employees.  While the cannabis community was hoping for O'Malley to champion this issue much like many of the brave Maryland state legislators, he too is joining governors across the country who are falling for the latest federal scare tactic.  While public officials across the country have received threat letters regarding medical cannabis, not one person has been prosecuted for the implementation of state sanctioned medical cannabis programs despite their receipt of threat letters indicating otherwise.

At a press conference last night in Annapolis, legislators and patients spoke out for the need of a bill like Delegate Glenn's House Bill 15, a proposed piece of legislation that focuses on best practices of medical cannabis states across the country.  HB15 is the only bill that would ensure safe access to cannabis via patient cultivation.

Rather than hoping for a law providing comprehensive protections and access for patients, Maryland is considering it's next best step is to provide patients with some of the protections they deserve.  MD-ASA, affiliates and concerned citizens are working with legislators amend HB 15 and SB995 to not only provide patients who possess a tamper-proof doctor's certification with protections from arrest and other civil protections, caregivers will also be awarded opportunities to use the affirmative defense in a court of law.  This move would still provide patients and caregivers with protection and advancing Maryland one step closer to providing safe access to qualifying patients in Maryland while removing the state as a central regulatory body for now so that patients can avoid unnecessary arrest and costly prosecution until next year, when hopefully the federal government will uphold state's rights to create and implement it's own medical cannabis law.  While this move may appear small on paper, it is a monumental move in the right direction for patients and caregivers.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 20, SB995 will be considered in front of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee at 1:00pm.  Americans for Safe Access is calling upon the medical cannabis community and it's s supporters to encourage the legislature to pass the amended version of SB995/HB15, and also encourage the governor to allow the bill to become law. For information on how to testify, email [email protected]

To read more about yesterday's press conference click here.
To access ASA's Action Alert click here.