Maryland Poised To Allow Medical Marijuana For Academic Research

Image by Mjpresson - from Wikipedia Commons

Image by Mjpresson – from Wikipedia Commons

Source: ThinkProgress

A bill to allow some medical marijuana use has passed the Maryland Legislature, and is awaiting the signature of Gov. Martin O’Malley. If O’Malley signs the bill as expected, Maryland would become the 19th state to legalize a medical marijuana program, in addition to the District of Columbia. The bill, however, is more limited than other state programs. It would authorize academic centers to administer marijuana through medical research programs that also study the effects of the drug, a structure O’Malley has called a “yellow light” approach since it doesn’t allow private medical marijuana dispensaries. It would also limit the number of centers that can disseminate marijuana and the number of patients per center, meaning that it may not cover many potential medical marijuana patients. What’s more, several of the state’s major universities – the University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins University – have already indicated they don’t plan to participate. In spite of the bill’s limitations, the program could facilitate more expansive research on marijuana – a development that could in turn help persuade the Drug Enforcement Administration to reconsider its designation of the plant as a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use. It will be a long road, however, as the program isn’t expected to go into effect until 2016.

Following successful ballot initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington, a number of other states introduced medical marijuana bills this year, while others have considered bills decriminalizing possession or legalizing recreational use. Maryland already has a law that allows individuals arrested for marijuana to raise medical necessity as a defense if they possess less than an ounce, but a bill to decriminalize the drug died earlier this year.

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Medical Benefits of Marijuana

  • Relieves chronic pain from a variety of causes and reduces the need for addictive narcotic pain killers.
  • Increases appetite, relieves nausea and vomiting, reduces pain and helps patients sleep while undergoing chemotherapy.
  • Improves appetite, may reduce pain and helps HIV patients sleep.
  • May reduce brain and lung tumors and slow the growth of cancer, may stop breast cancer from spreading throughout the body.