Maryland Legislator Fights for Patients’ Right to Cultivate
February 25, 2011 | Kris Hermes
Aimed at establishing the right for patients to reliably and affordably obtain medical marijuana, Maryland House Deputy Majority Whip Delegate Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore) introduced an amendment today to a proposed bill to ensure that patients have the right to cultivate their own medicine. House Bill 291 would protect patients from arrest and prosecution, and set up a state-run production and distribution system, but it fails to provide alternatives like self-cultivation for patients who don’t live near a distribution center or who cannot afford the high prices seen at facilities in other states. Before introducing her amendment to HB 291, Delegate Glenn said:
I’ve had two loved ones succumb to the ravages of cancer -- my mother passed away in June and my brother-in-law passed away 6 years ago. Both of them got to the point where they couldn’t eat and their doctors wished they could recommend medical marijuana to stimulate their appetite. I also know what it’s like to live in poverty and to not be able to afford desperately needed medicine. People should not be denied access to medical marijuana because they cannot afford it or because they cannot travel to locations where it's dispensed. Of course we should control it and regulate it, but we should not shut out people who need it.Patient cultivation is currently a right of hundreds of thousands of patients in 14 of the country’s 15 medical marijuana states. New Jersey is the only state to deny its patients the right to cultivate. Now, more than a year after the bill was passed, New Jersey has not registered a single patient, nor has it licensed a single producer or distributor. Subsequently, no patient is able to obtain medical marijuana legally in New Jersey. The Maryland Health and Government Operations Committee and the Judiciary Committee will hear HB 291 at 1pm on Monday, February 28th. Delegate Glenn's amendment will be heard by committee members at that time, as will testimony from patients, doctors and other experts. In preparation for the hearing, Americans for Safe Access issued a brief report on the importance and necessity of patient cultivation. The report points legislators to certain needs that would go unmet if patients were prevented from cultivating, such as affordability, reliability, consistency and quality. For additional information, see ASA’s press release.