Maryland Senate Committee Rejects Medical Marijuana Bill
A Maryland bill (HB 504) that would have allowed "medical necessity" as a legal defense for people charged with possession of marijuana was defeated 6-5 on Friday by the state Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, the Baltimore Sun reports (Baltimore Sun, 4/6). The bill, which passed the state House last month 80-56, stipulated that defendants who can prove to a judge or jury that they used marijuana "exclusively for medical reasons" would be subject to a $100 fine, as opposed to the current penalty of a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail. Some people taking antiretroviral medications for HIV infection find that smoking marijuana can suppress nausea and stimulate their appetites (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/26). According to the bill's sponsor, Del. Donald Murphy (R), the bill was rejected because state Sen. Tim Ferguson (R) voted against it after "promising" Murphy that he would not only vote for the bill but would "shepherd it through the committee." The Associated Press reports that Ferguson stated that he told Murphy he would help the bill through the committee but did not agree that he would vote for it (Associated Press, 4/5). Billy Rogers of the Marijuana Policy Project said that he was "disappointed" by the outcome of the committee vote, adding, "This a bad day for seriously ill patients in Maryland" (Washington Post, 4/6). Rogers stated that if the bill had cleared the committee, it would have passed in the state Senate, and he predicted that the bill would pass the state Assembly next year (Associated Press, 4/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.