Medical marijuana debate set for House of Delegates committee

Bill would legalize marijuana for medicinal use

The debate over medical marijuana is once again heating up in Annapolis.

This year, supporters have enlisted the help of a man who knows quite a bit about medical marijuana.

Irvin Rosenfeld carries a tin with him, everywhere he goes that is full of dozens of marijuana cigarettes.

The stockbroker from Florida uses it every day to help with the effects of a severe bone disorder.

"I need muscle relaxants, I need anti-inflammatory drugs, I need painkillers, I need sleeping medicine," he said.  "So I need all these different pills that I would take if I didn't have medical cannabis."

Rosenfeld has been getting his medicine from the federal government since the 1980's.  He was part of a research study that was shut down by President George Bush.  He's even written a book about his experiences.

"All I use is 10 to 12 cannabis cigarettes per day and it works tremendously. I'm living proof of how well it works," he said.

This is the third year Delegate Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore City) has proposed a medical marijuana bill.  She says she's motivated by having watching her mother and brother-in-law suffer from the effects of cancer treatments -- when medical marijuana might have helped them.

She says it should be available for others who need it.  "They are dying because we won't take the steps to have a regulated medical marihuana program and that's shameful," Del. Glenn said.

Marijuana has been approved for medical use in 18 states and Washington DC.

Opponents in Maryland have claimed that legalizing it could put state employees who run the program at risk of violating federal law.

Del. Glenn says her bill is narrowly written; other medications would have to be used first, and be proven ineffective.  "You have to have an ongoing relationship with a bona fide doctor. You can't just say 'I have a headache.'  This is not like California's model," she said.

A hearing is scheduled for Friday at 2:00 pm in front of a joint House committee; the Health and Government Operations and Judiciary committees.  A vote is expected happen next week.

 

The threat of a veto from Governor O'Nalley is one reason the bill hasn't gotten out of that committee in previous years; this year, Del. Glenn says she's been told if the bill can get through the house, the governor would allow it to pass.

"Even without the law patients are still using it today in your state," Rosenfeld said.  "They're becoming criminals.  You don't need to pass a law to get cannabis, but you do need to pass a law to make these patients legal."

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