Gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur may be proposing the legalization of marijuana, but medical marijuana is already legal in Maryland. The law passed the state legislature this year. Still, it is unclear when and where patients will be able to get pot legally.
The state’s Medical Marijuana Commission, created during the 2013 General Assembly session to get the program up and running, meets Tuesday afternoon faced with some major hurdles.
- Only facilities with academic medical programs will be able to legally dispense the drug. But both the University of Maryland Medical System and the Johns Hopkins University say they want no part of it, according to a Department of Legislative Services report. “It is unclear how many, if any, other institutions are eligible (and willing) to participate,” the report says. In an email, a Johns Hopkins Medicine spokesperson said that Hopkins "is open to a conversation with the state," but any commitment to participating would be "premature."
- If an academic medical center does decide to participate, where does it get the pot? The law says the marijuana can come from the federal government. But the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) says it is highly unlikely the feds will provide it. MPP, the largest marijuana advocacy group in the U.S., says the federal government “currently refuses to provide marijuana even for some short-term, FDA-approved studies.” So don’t expect it to supply a large, permanent program.
- The marijuana can also come from state-licensed growers. No more than five growers will be allowed for each approved program. According to legislative services, those growers will have to prove their crop is going only to the medical program. That will include having regular inspections and a product-tracking system.
The commission, which has met twice thus far, is to meet at 2 p.m. at the state health department, 201 W. Preston Street in Baltimore.