Maryland is set to become the 20th state to legalize marijuana for medical uses after lawmakers in the state’s senate voted Monday 42-4 in favor of setting up a state-run commission that grants licenses to distribute the drug to approved patients.
HB 1101 cleared Maryland’s lower chamber on March 25 by a vote of 108-28, and Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said he intends to sign it into law. O’Malley previously expressed caution over the bill, apparently concerned that the federal government may try to prosecute state employees who facilitate the program, but changed his mind when those prosecutions never emerged in other states.
Unlike bigger medical marijuana programs like California’s, which set up a boutique retail industry and allows doctors to recommend the drug for nearly any condition, the bill in Maryland will put academic medical research centers in charge of determining who can apply for access to the drug. State-regulated growing operations would be tapped for patients’ supplies.