A bill being discussed in Annapolis is written so that marijuana would be legalized for use only under narrow and well-defined circumstances.
Supporters of the bill packed the hearing room on Friday.
Barry Considine said he is living with post-polio syndrome and is in constant pain. John McCarthy is HIV positive, he suffers from a disease that makes his feet burn and he has chronic pain from a broken neck.
Both were in Annapolis lobbying in support of the legislation that would allow marijuana be used for medical purposes.
"It will allow me to have the use of cannabis in, say, a form of vaporization or putting it into food. That way, I'm not smoking it," Considine said.
"Taking the pill, I probably would be addicted by now. I am able to stagger my doses using marijuana, and it allows me to participate in my daily activities," McCarthy said.
Using marijuana to reduce pain and/or to stimulate an appetite under a doctor's prescription and care is being driven by compassion to improve the quality of life of those suffering.
Delegate Dr. Dan Morhaim is the lead sponsor of the measure. He said using marijuana for medical purposes has nothing to do with the war on drugs.
"I believe it's time to take the sick and dying off the battlefield," he said.
Two House committees heard the legislation that is modeled after a New Jersey law. It's not a grow-your-own opportunity, I-Team reporter David Collins said. Marijuana would be harvested at a state facility under the supervision of the state agriculture and health departments.
The drug would be dispensed through a licensed infirmary, but preferably a pharmacy, Collins reported. The patients' doctor would write a prescription and the patient would have to register with the state and help fund the program.
The issue is highly emotional and personal among many legislators. Republican Sen. David Brinkley is a cancer survivor, and Baltimore City Delegate Cheryl Glenn's mother has cancer.
"For some people, this is a viable option as they seek recovery, and for others, this is a viable option as they figure out how they're going to live out the end of their days," Brinkley said.
"I don't think anyone would want to see their loved ones waste away when we could strengthen them if we could stimulate their appetite to the point where they could eat," said Glenn, D-Baltimore city.
According to sponsors, the bill has the backing of the Senate president, the American Medical Association and nurses.
For the first time, the Maryland State Police is not taking a position regarding medical marijuana.
February 26, 2010
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Medical Marijuana in Maryland To Be Highly Controlled Under Bill