For most of the states passing new marijuana legislation, it’s a new game entirely—creating medical marijuana systems, the regulations that control who can grow and sell, or even considering recreational pot for consenting adults. But for Maryland it’s a little different. There, medical marijuana was legalized last year, but the framework put in place just isn’t working.
Now, lawmakers in Maryland are trying again to ensure those patients who need cannabis can get access to it.
The new bill recently passed a Senate panel and now heads to the full Senate for a vote. It’s already passed the House of Delegates, though the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee made some changes to the language that Delegates approved. Still, all-in-all, the version heading before the Senate is an improvement upon the one that was passed last year.
Last year’s law sought to drastically limit how medical marijuana patients could access their medicine, limiting distribution to only a small number of “academic medical centers”. Yes, hospitals aligned with Universities, for instance. The problem is, none of these establishments wanted any part of the new medical marijuana system, so patients have gone without.
Now, lawmakers are weighing the idea of dispensaries—up to 100 in total across the state with two in each legislative district.
Read: Legalize Marijuana? Benefits Ignored by Government
Further, the proposed law would change how the marijuana is grown. The Frederick News-Post reports that a current cap limits the amount of growers to 10. The proposed Senate bill removes that cap, allowing more growers an opportunity to get involved in the legal trade of medicinal marijuana.
“We want to keep the interests of the patients and their families at the center of what we’re doing,” said Senator Jamie Raskin (D), who sponsored the bill.
The version that passed the House of Delegates put a five-year term limit on grower’s licenses. The senate has reduced that term to two years in their version.
“We do understand that there’s investment that’s being made by the businesses that are going into growing, but apparently there’s no shortage of candidates and people expressing interest in it, and we think that a two-year license would more than justify the upfront investment they would have to make,” explained Raskin.
The Senate should vote on the matter in coming weeks, potentially making medical marijuana finally accessible to the patiently waiting patients of Maryland.