Maryland: Governor Appoints Commission To Oversee Medical Marijuana Program


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maryland's medical marijuana law is "smoke and mirrors," according to Maryland NORML; almost all national cannabis law reform organizations agree, and don't include Maryland on the list of MMJ states, since its law appears to be unworkable. Be that as it may, Governor Martin O'Malley on Thursday appointed a commission to oversee the program.

The governor appointed 11 members to the Maryland Medical Marijuana Commission, as called for by legislation passed during this year's session of the General Assembly, reports John Wagner at The Washington Post. Chairing the marijuana commission will be Dr. Paul W. Davies, president of Advanced Pain Management Specialists, which has eight locations in Maryland.

Maryland's new medical marijuana law limits distribution of cannabis to a small number of academic medical centers. The commission has the authority to permit the centers to design and implement programs that make marijuana available to defined groups of patients.

The earliest that a center could begin distribution is 2016, according to legislative analysts. The marijuana commission is scheduled to have its first meeting in Baltimore on September 24.

But according to Judy Pentz of Maryland NORML, the law is little more than political window dressing.

"HB 1101 is a smoke and mirrors bill that will benefit NO patient in Maryland," she said in May, reports Toke Signals. "It is a fake bill to afford our governor a chance to 'look good' for his U.S. presidential run in 2016.

"National NORML and Maryland NORML do not recognize Maryland as the 19th [medical marijuana] state," Pentz told Toke Signals in May. "There will be NO growing and NO dispensaries here in Maryland. Patients will NOT be able to readily receive cannabis and it will NOT be available to them.

"The bill is set up with so much red tape that it cannot possibly help anyone," she said. "It requires they establish a committee to set up programs with academic research centers -- of which there are only three in Maryland, and two of them have already said they are uninterested in participating.

"Those academic research centers are funded in part by the pharmaceutical industry," Pentz said.

"Furthermore, there will be no growers or dispensaries in our state," she said. "So where will the marijuana come from? Here in Maryland we are no closer to becoming a medical marijuana state."

(Photo of Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley: Serving Dope)