Cannabis treatment in prisons, prohibiting employers from questioning their employees marijuana habits, the manufacture and sale of medical cannabis are some of the new objectives set down by the law makers in Maryland.
What’s happening right now
The General Assembly won’t be bickering over one or two new laws, but 18 of them. The use of medical cannabis has been legalised and patients only need to be approved by Natalie M. LaPrade of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.
This commission oversees and develops all regulation, policies concerning the use of these drugs, along with qualifying patients, charting out treatment processes etc.Recreational use of marijuana isn’t legal.
Are these changes really necessary?
Senator Bobby Zirkin, Committee Chair of the D-Baltimore County is the lead sponsor of 11 of these 18 new bills. He had told Capital News Service that the idea of these bills is to normalise medical marijuana; to get it viewed or recognised as a real medication. As of now, federal law still considers cannabis to be an illicit drug.
This cause is very close to Zirkin’s heart, as he had told Capital News Service. He has, over his years in service to the Maryland Legislature, seen how medical cannabis has helped people and he simply wants to remove as many road blocks as he can.
What are the changes to be expected?
Senate Bill 857 is one of the solutions meant to resolve those roadblocks and is sponsored by Zirkin. It will enable specified dispensaries to acquire, sell, and posses foods containing medical cannabis to qualifying patients, along with permitting certain processors to distribute and sell to those specified dispensaries.
Coming back to the issue of recreational marijuana. Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission’s executive director, Joy Strand said that the making of edible cannabis products are very different from using the flowers – which is the part of the plant that can be smoked, and from processed cannabis products too.
All foods sold and produced in Maryland is regulated by the Maryland Office of Food Safety, and that there is a conflict of regulations.
Strand had briefed law makers on January 17th this year to highlight these issues. She mentioned that they were excited to bring an edibles program to Maryland. That their top focus was on ensuring that all products were safe for patients to be used as medicines and were of the highest quality.
Senate Bill 97 is one of Zirkin’s other objectives; which states that a person cannot be denied the right to purchase, possess or carry a firearm based on their authorized status as a medical cannabis patient.
It won’t be smooth sailing all the way:
This might be a tough one, as Federal Law bars medical cannabis patients from buying, even possessing firearms as stated under the Federal Gun Control Act. At the same time, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule I drug and is therefore, illegal too.
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission website says that the Maryland State Police does have the right to ask potential gun buyers about their status as a medical cannabis patient and can prevent them from completing that purchase, if necessary.
Senate Bill 855 will permit qualified inmates in state and local correctional facilities, to receive medical cannabis. According to norms, inmates are allowed to get treatment and medical care while incarcerated, yet prescribed medications might not always be given to them.
Senate Bill 86 opposes this. It instead says that the possession of cannabis/marijuana is barred on the grounds of local or state correctional facilities, while the criminal offender is in a home detention program.
Senate Bill 863 prohibits employers from placing requirements on employees or new applicants to disclose whether they use cannabis/marijuana or not.
It won’t prevent them from taking actions as mandated to them by local, state or federal authorities. They can inquire about whether employees were possessing, using the same drugs at the place of their employment.
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission does have to operate with in certain boundaries. For example, they can’t publish ads for medical cannabis or any of it’s associated products on billboards, TV, radio, websites and the internet.
Zirkin intends on changing this using the Senate Bill 859: this will change the advertising laws connected with cannabis, so that they’re consistent with those federal regulations as followed by prescription drug advertising.