Friday, September 04, 2009
Maryland’s Medical Marijuana Law Lacks
I was pleased to hear some refreshing
out of Montgomery County, Maryland last week – judges in two medical
marijuana cases handed down light sentences to patients convicted on
William York walked out of the courthouse with a $100 fine, and Winnie
Gesumwa had her fine waived, due to Maryland’s medical marijuana law, which
caps the sentence for marijuana possession at a $100 fine if defendants can
prove they use the drug for medical purposes.
While assuring, theses rulings have also drawn attention to the tremendous
shortcomings of the Maryland law, particularly its ambiguity and lack of
essential protections for patients and caregivers.
The Darrell Putman Compassionate Use
require the state to maintain a registry of medical marijuana
patients, a resource that would help keep people using the drug for medical
purposes out of the criminal justice system. The law contains no safe access
provision, so patients still have to buy marijuana off the street rather
than from dispensaries. And if patients are prosecuted for possession, they
have no recourse to seek refunds for legal fees.
Essentially, the law is useless to most of its intended beneficiaries.
Currently, the sentences meted out to Maryland’s medical marijuana patients
convicted on pot charges depend entirely on the legal representation
available to them and the individual judges assigned to their cases. Those
who’ve received fines have generally benefited from lawyers familiar with
medical marijuana law and capable of mounting a trenchant argument that
marijuana is a medical necessity for their clients. They’ve also been lucky
enough to have their cases heard by judges willing to show leniency toward
medical marijuana patients. Not all judges are, and lawyers knowledgeable
about the Compassionate Use Act are hard to come by.
Without a law that clearly outlines protections for patients and caregivers,
these inconsistencies in sentencing will continue, but the Maryland
legislature has been maddeningly hesitant to improve the current law. Last
year, legislators failed even to pass a bill that would have created a
taskforce to assemble a set of best practices for medical marijuana law that
could guide reforms in Maryland.
There’s a good chance another taskforce bill will be introduced this fall,
and I hope lawmakers will reconsider. It’s a small step toward much needed
reforms, but a step forward nonetheless. Maryland owes its medical marijuana
patients a law with some substance.
Posted by Maureen Brookes @ 1:45 PM
Comment Successfully Posted
What schedule does Maryland have marijuana in? If marijuana is in a state
schedule that says it has no accepted medical use in the United States, file
a petition or a law suit to have it removed from that classification. That
will get the attention needed to get the ball rolling. It’s working great
here in Iowa.
Iowans for Medical Marijuana