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Universities Could Distribute Medical Marihuana

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Universities could distribute medical marijuanaOption suggested by state work groupBy ASHLEY M. LATTA, Capital News Service





In May, Gov. Martin O'Malley signed into law a bill providing a legal defense for marijuana use by patients who have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition that is "severe and resistant to conventional medicine."

But the new law does not permit the possession of medical marijuana in Maryland, since lawmakers wanted to research that issue first. So the law created the Maryland Medical Marijuana Model Program Work Group and assigned it to make recommendations.

"It's still a crime to possess marijuana for medical use," said Debbie Miran, a chemist, work group member and leukemia survivor.

Karen O'Keefe, another work group member and director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C., said, "There's no way for a patient to get the marijuana other than a drug dealer, and it's a felony to grow it,"

Members of the work group set out to create a model that would allow for further research into medical marijuana and more comprehensive legislation.

The two models the group devised overlap. Both outline conditions for enforcement, regulation and accountability.

The key to the first proposed piece of legislation is that the distribution of medical marijuana would occur only throughacademic institutions. Those institutions, such as Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, would control distribution to patients.

But the institutions would risk losing federal funding, as distribution would still violate federal law.

The second drafted bill is modeled after earlier proposals in Maryland, as well as other state laws. It would allow doctors to apply for permission to recommend medical marijuana and require those physicians to participate in a training program.

But physicians could not physically handle or distribute the drug, and patients would still require a legal avenue of access.

Out of options

Miran said she turned to medical marijuana after a bone marrow transplant, when her medications made it so difficult to eat that she lost 40 pounds.

"That was a horrible decision for us to make," she said. "It wasn't legal."

But she didn't have any other options. "I was a walking skeleton," she said.

The most common diagnoses for which medical marijuana may be recommended include cancers, AIDS and conditions such as multiple sclerosis, which cause severe ongoing, chronic or neuropathic pain.

"The goal of the legislation … is to have medical marijuana be available to those folks who would benefit," said Del. Dan Morhaim, D-Baltimore County, the only licensed physician in the General Assembly, and a member of the work group.

By today, Joshua Sharfstein, secretary of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, also a work group member, was scheduled to present the group's findings to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, the House Health and Government Operations Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.

During the 2010 session, the Maryland Senate passed a bill that would have protected patients from arrest for possession of medical marijuana and established licensed centers to cultivate and distribute marijuana. Opposition from Sharfstein helped prevent passage in the House of Delegates.

The primary legal stipulation in the amended bill that did pass last spring was the establishment of an affirmative defense for the use or possession of marijuana for medical purposes by patients with severe conditions resistant to conventional treatments.

The law does not protect patients from arrest. It merely provides a legal defense if the patient can prove medical necessity.

Up to lawmakers

Once the legislation prepared by the work group becomes available, it will be up to state lawmakers to decide whether to pass a more comprehensive bill.

"I would imagine that at least one of the members of the legislature would introduce at least one piece of (medical marijuana) legislation," O'Keefe said.

A poll conducted earlier this year found that 72 percent of Maryland voters support a bill that would allow patients with serious illnesses to purchase and use medical marijuana with their doctors' approval, after the use of conventional treatments. The poll, conducted Feb. 18 -20 by Public Policy Polling, surveyed 1,076 registered voters.

Sixteen states and the Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana. The federal government has not legalized the use of marijuana, classified by the federal Food and Drug Administration as a Schedule I drug, under any circumstances.

Current Maryland law does not protect defendants charged with marijuana use in public or those in possession of more than an ounce.


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I read that Wayne State University was/is doing a study involving HIV/AIDS patients. Supposedly it’s not a medication study (you need the fed permission for that), but a therapeutic inquiry.


I like the possibility of the distribution of medical marijuana through academic institutions. This is something I considered. Those who are supplied would be therapeutic study groups.


Oops! I needed to make verb/spelling corrections

Edited by Ms Chocolate
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but a Theraputic study group should NOT be making dispensing decisions. recommend sure. Any time you put a government backed group behind the handling of dispensing of medicine, it is soon overrun with fraud, cost goes up, black market profits even more.....


let the people Grow it, and allow them to dispense it as one would any other home grown produce and get on with Taking care of Serious business, instead of making whoopee around with this low priority bs...

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until we change the status of sched I controlled...nothing with federal anything will touch it (period).


i was a patient in NV...and their version of the law actually petitions the state university system to conduct research on the medicinal value of marijuana & to forward that to the federal gov't & to petition them for reclassification. won't touch it, even if offered to em for free, for study. just can't risk the federal withholding of funds...or criminal sanctions.

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From a scientific and medical perspective it makes a lot of sense to have the medical departments of universities involved in research and distribution, but this is a road already taken and found to be a dead end. New Jersey tried it and it went no where due to the existing Fed contracts that the schools have. At this point it seems that this is a ruse by obstructionist politicians that want to sound like they are for medical mj knowing full well that it will never fly as long as the Feds are against it.

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We don't need to re invent the wheel as we already won on the science of cannabis being medicine. We just need to force our state to file with the fed to re-sch cannabis off sch 1 on the fed level. We been hearing the " lets study this more" crap for decades. cannabis is prolly to most STUDIED substance on the planet so screw the STUDYING IT crap. been there already did that. Now's the time for them to get off their backside and re-sch it off sch 1 and get on with more important things facing our country. This kick( study it more ) the can down the road crap has to stop. Time to start putting them on the line in public every time ya can with this issue.

We need action not more BS coming out of chicken shet politicians mouths that we have to study this more. No we need it fixed so get to fixing it...

I plan on hitting every dam repub/dem meeting I can find this voting season to put every candidate on front street in front of as many folks as I can. It's time we all start REALLY ringing their bells.....

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The best way to keep control of MMJ is for us to advance the Science ourselves. Right now the VA is using MMJ in a study to help Vets coming home with PTSD successfully. How can the Federal Government continue to claim there is no beneficial thearaputic use for MMJ?



It was MAPS, not the VA, who received FDA approval for their clinical trial of cannabis for use with PTSD. Unfortunately, NIDA & the DEA did not sign off. Read more at http://www.maps.org/research/mmj/


As for the VA, the bad news is that VA physicians will NOT sign medical cannabis recommendation forms. The good news is that veterans will not be denied care at VA hospitals/clinics as a result of lawful medical cannabis use in states where it is allowed. This policy has been in effect since July 2010 (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/24/health/policy/24veterans.html).

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