Maryland lawmakers debate expanded medical marijuana laws

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Some lawmakers in Annapolis hope to join 20 other states and Washington, D.C. to make medical marijuana legal here.

Legislators heard testimony today in the House of Delegates’ Health and Government Operations Committee from families who could benefit from marijuana taken as medicine, but their families suffer because they can't get it in the state where they live.

They say it's not just adults that can benefit.

Gail Rand was in Annapolis Friday to talk with lawmakers about her 4-year-old son Logan. Logan is a vibrant, active boy like many his age. The only difference is he has epilepsy.

“He has 10 to 20 seizure a day,” Rand said. “He's had over 12,000 in his lifetime.”

Rand met with several doctors about Logan's epilepsy. They say marijuana could help. The marijuana used for children uses a very low dose of THC in it. 

“I spoke with three doctors here and they recommended marijuana to treat his epilepsy but he can't get it here [because] it's illegal,” she said.

Rand says Logan takes other drugs for the epilepsy, but those have harsher side effects and are less effective. She reached out to families in Colorado who use marijuana in the treatment of their children.

“It doesn't seem fair it's stopping at state lines,” she said.

The hearing room was packed today with parents, children and other adults looking for answers and lawmakers took up an issue that was first debated in Maryland 34 years ago.

The legislation under consideration is a bill that would create clear rules for qualified patients and law enforcement, put in place a strictly regulated production and distribution system and protect patients from discrimination in housing, employment, education, and child custody cases, which has been a systemic problem in states with weaker medical marijuana laws. 

Last year, the legislature passed HB 1101, which established a program that would be run by "Academic Medical Centers" to distribute marijuana to patients, in a study program only, but that supporters say that program has not realized any progress to date.

"I will not rest until Maryland establishes a medical marijuana program that would allow those patients who suffer and die needlessly to access the drugs that would give them the quality of life they so much deserve to have", said Del. Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore).  "Our constituents deserve the same compassion shown in 20 other states, including the District of Columbia, that have up and running medical marijuana programs."

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