Maryland

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U.S.: Federal Medical Marijuana Bill Stalls Despite Increased Support

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Support for a federal medical marijuana bill is building. The momentum is almost palpable from one day to the next, and the wave perhaps hasn't crested -- but the bill still isn't getting the Republican support it needs in the U.S. Senate.

Two more influential Democratic senators, Charles E. Schumer of New York and Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland (both states recently legalized medicinal cannabis) announced their support for the bill that would reschedule marijuana and let states set their own medical marijuana policies. But the bill needs more Republicans, reports Matthew Fleming at Roll Call.

The bill has just two Republican cosponsors, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, an original cosponsor, and Dean Heller of Nevada. Getting any more has been difficult.

"It's a slow process and we're trying," Paul said last week, adding there are "several" other Republicans considered possibilities -- but none are officially onboard yet.

Sixteen senators support the bill, including Democrats Cory Booker of New Jersey, the original sponsor, and Kirsten Gillebrand of New York an original cosponsor. Booker referred questions about Republican outreach to his office, which didn't respond to requests for comment.

Maryland: Consulting Firm Releases Analysis For Opening A Marijuana Dispensary

MarylandMarketAnalysis(MarijuanaLeaf)[GreenRushConsultingLLC]

With medical marijuana coming to Maryland, experts at Green Rush Consulting have evaluated this emerging market in a new Maryland Market Analysis for the Medical Marijuana Industry. This analysis examines both the latest draft regulations and the potential of the Maryland market.

"With a favorable political climate and more than 50 percent of Maryland residents in favor of recreational marijuana, the Maryland market is full of promise for the medical marijuana industry," according to Green Rush. "This analysis not only estimates the industry revenue potential, but also breaks down the patient population – critical information for opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Maryland."

The Maryland Market Analysis for the Medical Marijuana Industry also summarizes the application process with reference to the critical sections of the current draft regulations.

The GRC team gives applicants a handy reference as they begin preparing for the September application process:

• Comprehensive analysis of Maryland's political climate as it relates to medical and recreational marijuana;
• Descriptions of the qualifying conditions for patients, and a disease-by-disease estimate of the potential patient pool;
• Detailed breakdown of the application process for cultivation centers, processors, dispensaries, physicians, and patients;
• Projections of the revenue potential for dispensaries and cultivation centers; and
• Discussion of the potential future of recreational marijuana in Maryland.

Maryland: Governor Vetoes Popular Bill Intended To Fix Marijuana Decrim Law

LarryHogan(GovernorMaryland)[KatherineFrey-TheWashingtonPost]

Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland calls on state lawmakers to override veto of SB 517, which would remove criminal penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced late Friday afternoon that he has vetoed a widely supported bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia, including potential jail time.

SB 517, introduced by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), was approved 32-13 in the Senate and 83-53 in the House of Delegates. The measure would also have designated public marijuana consumption a civil offense punishable by a $500 fine.

Maryland adopted a law last year that decriminalized possession of a small amount of marijuana, but it did not include marijuana paraphernalia. That leaves the state in the unusual position of having decriminalized marijuana itself, but marijuana paraphernalia is still a crime.

Gov. Hogan’s letter to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller announcing the veto and explaining his reasoning is available at http://bit.ly/1ellF1e.

Maryland: Legislature Votes To Repeal Law Against Marijuana Paraphernalia

MarijuanaParaphernalia[DEAMuseum]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Maryland General Assembly has approved a bill which would repeal the state's law against marijuana paraphernalia.

The House of Delegates on Saturday voted 84-52, sending the bill, already approved by the Senate, to Governor Larry Hogan's desk, reports CBS DC.

Maryland decriminalized possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana last year, making it a civil offense rather than a criminal one.

Lawmakers didn't do the same thing at that time for smoking paraphernalia like pipes and bongs, so the paraphernalia bill was introduced this session of the Assembly.

The same measure also makes smoking marijuana in public a civil offense, punishable by a fine of up to $500.

Photo: DEA Museum

Maryland: House Bill Excludes Marijuana As Parole Violation

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Parolees in Maryland who use or possess small amounts of marijuana would no longer be violation of their sentences under a bill narrowly approved by the Maryland House of Delegates last week.

The bill, which squeaked by on a 10-vote margin, comes a year after Maryland voted to decriminalize the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana. It heads to the Senate for consideration, report Ovetta Wiggins and Jenna Johnson at The Washington Post.

Proponents say it's important for the rules of probation and parole to mirror criminal law, and not to penalize people for offenses that are no longer criminal. Opponents of the bill claimed it would undermine aspects of the criminal justice system intended to keep former inmates on a "positive path," which apparently to these morons means encouraging them to drink rather than the safer alternative of using cannabis.

Possession of small amounts of cannabis isn't a violent offense, said Del. Jay Walker, one of dozens of benighted Democrats who voted against the bill, but drug possession is related to the "drug culture -- the most violent culture we have."

But Del. David Moon (D-Montgomery), who sponsored the legislation, said the bill is "an attempt to keep nonviolent offenders out of the system."

"The spirit is to include all offenses that have been moved from criminal to civil," Moon said.

Maryland: House Committee Hearing Set For Tuesday On Bill To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

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House Judiciary Committee to consider bill at 1 p.m. that would make marijuana legal for adults, establish regulations for cultivation and sale

The Maryland House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing in the General Assembly on Tuesday, February 24, to consider a bill that would regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol.

Supporters of the bill, including representatives of the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland, are expected to testify.

The hearing will take place in Room 101 of the House Office Building at 1 p.m. ET.

HB 911, the Marijuana Control and Revenue Act of 2015, sponsored by Del. Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore City), would allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes.

The bill requires the Maryland Comptroller to establish rules and regulations for the operation of cultivation facilities, product manufacturers, retailers, and safety compliance labs. It also creates an oversight commission to monitor marijuana businesses and advise the comptroller on regulatory issues.

WHAT: House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Marijuana Control and Revenue Act of 2015 (HB 911)

WHEN: Tuesday, February 24, 1 p.m. ET

WHERE: Maryland House Office Building, Room 101, 6 Bladen St., Annapolis

WHO: Sara Love, ACLU of Maryland
Eric Blitz, Libertarian Party
Tim Lynch, Cato Institute

Maryland: Bill To Legalize, Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Introduced In Legislature

MarylandMarijuana[TheDailyChronic]

Bill would make marijuana legal for adults, establish regulations for cultivation and sale

A bill that would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol was introduced in the Maryland General Assembly on Friday. HB 911, the Marijuana Control and Revenue Act of 2015, sponsored by Del. Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore City), would allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes.

The bill requires the Maryland Comptroller to establish rules and regulations for the operation of cultivation facilities, product manufacturers, retailers, and safety compliance labs. It also creates an oversight commission to monitor marijuana businesses and advise the comptroller on regulatory issues.

The fiscal note for similar legislation proposed in 2014 estimated about $95.6 million per year in revenue from the $50/ounce excise taxes and about $39 million in new revenue from sales taxes. State expenditures would be exceeded through the estimated $1.995 to $3.985 million in yearly revenue in licensing fees from wholesalers, retailers, and safety compliance facilities.

A companion bill, SB 531, was introduced by Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) earlier this week.

Marijuana businesses would not be permitted to operate within 1,000 feet of a school, and localities would be able to enforce additional regulations. Using marijuana in public and driving under the influence would remain illegal.

Maryland: Director Appointed For Medical Marijuana Program

MarylandMedicalMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The first executive director of the Maryland Medical Marijuana Commission has been appointed, it was announced on Friday.

Hannah Byron has been named to the position, according to the panel, reports the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Byron was assistant secretary for the Maryland Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts of the Department of Economic and Business Development.

Byron's appointment takes effect on January 14.

“The Commission is thrilled that Hannah Byron, an extraordinarily effective public official, has agreed to be our first full-time executive director,” said Dr. Paul Davies, chair of the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission. “For more than 12 years, she has been a top administrator in the Department of Business and Economic Development. We are excited that she will bring her deep experience with the business community and her commitment to the citizens of Maryland to lead the Commission.”

“We face an urgent challenge to get medical marijuana to patients whose doctors have certified that they need it,” Byron said. “I look forward to working with the medical profession and patients, law enforcement, business and agricultural leaders, the Commissioners and others to implement this law. I am committed to getting this program operational as quickly as possible.”

Maryland: Marijuana Policy Project To Honor Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman

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Award for dedication to advancing sensible marijuana policy reform to be presented by former Republican Maryland State Delegate Don Murphy

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) will honor Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman on Friday at the Maryland GOP Fall Convention Eve Party for his dedication to advancing sensible marijuana policy reform. Former Maryland State Delegate Don Murphy, now a federal policies analyst at MPP, will present the award to the former state senate minority leader.

During his time in the Maryland State Senate, Kittleman co-sponsored a successful medical marijuana bill and served as the lead sponsor of recently implemented legislation that reduces the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a civil offense.

MPP will also be honoring other members of the Maryland GOP who supported the passage of these bills.

“We are pleased to present this award to Executive Kittleman and the other Republican lawmakers who helped bring about these much-needed reforms,” Murphy said. “Ending our failed marijuana prohibition policies makes sense regardless of what side of the political spectrum you’re on.

"It is refreshing to see that the GOP in Maryland and across the country is beginning to show leadership on this important issue,” Murphy said.

WHAT: Award presentation to Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman during Maryland GOP Fall Convention Eve Party for his dedication to advancing sensible marijuana policy reform

WHEN: Friday, December 5, 8 p.m. ET

D.C.: House Republican Vows To Block Marijuana Legalization In Nation's Capital

AndyHarris(Congressman-R-Maryland)[AP]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One House Republican said on Wednesday that he will do all he can to block implementation of the marijuana legalization measure approved by District of Columbia voters on Tuesday.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-Maryland) said marijuana's federal classification as a Schedule I drug should be enforced in the District, reports Aaron C. Davis at The Washington Post.

Harris, a doctor by training, blasted the legalization vote as detrimental to adolescents. "Actions by those in D.C. will result in higher drug use among teens," Harris told the Post. "I will consider using all resources available to a member of Congress to stop this action, so that drug use among teens does not increase."

The Congressman seems a little confused about how things work; currently, of course, black-market drug dealers don't ask teens for ID when selling marijuana; licensed cannabis retail outlets would.

Residents of and visitors to the nation's capital 21 and older will be allowed under Initiative 71 to legally possess up to two ounces of marijuana, and to grow up to three cannabis plants at home.

D.C. Mayor-Elect Muriel E. Bowser said she would vote for the measure, and would see to its implementation. She agreed with the D.C. Council that the District must now take the next step of writing a measure establishing a system of retail sales and taxation.

Maryland: Marijuana Decriminalization Bill To Take Effect Wednesday

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Criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession will be replaced with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket

Legislation adopted this year to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession in Maryland will go into effect on Wednesday, October 1.

Maryland joins 17 other states and the District of Columbia that have decriminalized or legalized marijuana possession. In addition, Missouri passed a similar bill this year, which will make it the 19th state to do so when it goes into effect.

Senate Bill 364 makes possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program.

“Decriminalization will free up law enforcement officials’ time and allow them to focus on more pressing issues than marijuana possession," said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and a 34-year veteran of the Maryland State Police.

"It will address some inequalities in our justice system, but, until we fully legalize and regulate marijuana, sales will continue to be conducted by criminals in an underground market," Franklin said. "Until that happens, we are not going to see the public safety benefits that are possible in a post-prohibition world.”

Maryland: Study Says State Could Make $40 Million From Legal Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new study indicates that if Maryland legalized marijuana, it would bring Maryland more than $40 million in taxes revenues.

The study by financial advisory company Nerd Wallet found that the United States would make $3 billion in taxes if cannabis were legally sold; it then broke down what every state could expect in marijuana revenue, reports Megan Pringle at WBAL-TV.

Due to the illegal nature of marijuana in 48 states, it's hard to get good numbers on the amount of weed that's bought and consumed. To estimate what each state would get from cannabis sales, Nerd Wallet said it had to rely on how many people report smoking pot to the federal government -- so it's a pretty safe bet that there numbers are substantially low.

The study found that in Maryland, more than 145,000 people use cannabis. Based on that, and estimated tax revenues, if marijuana were legal, it would bring Maryland $40,548,337m, the study estimated.

California would make the most, at $500 million, while Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota would make the least, each with less than $10 million, the study showed.

Texas, Washington, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Florida are all estimated to get more than $100 million from legalization.

Maryland: Panel Works Toward Final Medical Marijuana Rules

MarylandMedicalMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Maryland state panel on Tuesday worked on the final details to create a medical marijuana system from scratch, but a few points remain unresolved as the commission moves toward next week's deadline.

The Maryland Medical Marijuana Commission on Wednesday released a second draft of regulations to create the program, reports Erin Cox at The Baltimore Sun. The 81 pages of rules were reworked after the first draft came under fire at a public hearing last month.

Among the many changes in the second draft was removal of a provision that would have effectively banned medical marijuana growers or dispensaries within Baltimore city limits.

The panel also decided to create a digital registry of medical marijuana patients, in an effort to assure only patients receive cannabis. It also tweaked the rules about how patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can access the herb.

But still missing from the revisions are details about how much patients and distributors will pay to participate in the program.

The Maryland Legislature passed a medical marijuana law earlier this year which allows for up to 15 growers and about 100 dispensaries across the state. It is up to the Medical Marijuana Commission to decide how to implement that law.

U.S.: White House Opposes GOP Amendment Undermining DC Marijuana Law Reform

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In a Statement of Administration Policy on Monday, the White House expressed strong opposition to a Republican amendment by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Maryland) that is directed at blocking implementation of a recent law the District of Columbia passed replacing jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use with a small fine.

The statement calls marijuana reform a “states’ rights” issue, a groundbreaking policy position for the White House to take, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). The D.C. Council also on Monday passed a resolution condemning congressional interference.

“It is great to see the White House accepting that a majority of Americans want marijuana law reform and defending the right of D.C. and states to set their own marijuana policy,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs at the DPA. “The tide has clearly shifted against the failed war on drugs and it’s only a matter of time before federal law is changed."

The White House Statement of Administration Policy reads: “Similarly, the Administration strongly opposes the language in the bill preventing the District from using its own local funds to carry out locally- passed marijuana policies, which again undermines the principles of States' rights and of District home rule. Furthermore, the language poses legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Department's enforcement of all marijuana laws currently in force in the District.”

Maryland: Montgomery Council Urges Assembly, Governor to Decriminalize Marijuana Paraphernalia

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Representatives of Maryland’s most populous county say possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia should be among its lowest law enforcement priorities

The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution urging the Maryland General Assembly and Governor to decriminalize possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Montgomery is the state’s most populated county.

Specifically, the resolution urges them to “make adult paraphernalia possession a civil offense, no more serious than adult possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana.” In April, the General Assembly adopted a bill decriminalizing possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, and Gov. Martin O’Malley signed it into law.

The council resolution also expresses the opinion that “possession of small amounts of marijuana and paraphernalia by adults should be among the County’s lowest law enforcement priorities.”

"Good cops don't want to waste their time arresting adults for marijuana possession," said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and a 34-year veteran of the Maryland State Police. "They want to focus on serious threats to our community.

"Each marijuana arrest takes up time and resources that could be used to keep our neighborhoods safe,” Franklin said.

Maryland: Woman Finds Marijuana In Order of Fries

SonicMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Maryland woman found a small bag of marijuana in her french fries after visiting a local Sonic restaurant last week.

Carla McFarland, 35, of Frederick, had taken her six-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son to the fast food restaurant on Guilford drive on Wednesday, reports Courtney Mabeus at The Frederick News-Post. After passing them chicken strips and fries, McFarland reached into the bag for her own food and found a small plastic bag containing what looked like cannabis in a third container holding her own order of fries.

"I just kind of sat there in my car in shock," McFarland said on Thursday. "I kept thinking, what if my kids had eaten it?" (Nothing serious would have happened, even in that worst-case scenario, of course. You see, that's the thing about cannabis -- it's non-poisonous.)

McFarland said she immediately asked to speak to the manager at Sonic, and also called the police. A manager also called the police, McFarland said, and told her than one employee had admitted the pot was hers, saying it must have slipped from her apron.

"When she asked the three employees, one of the young ladies stepped up and said it was hers," McFarland said, reports NBC Washington.

Maryland: Gubernatorial Candidate Supports Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's Primary Election Day in Maryland, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur says marijuana should be legalized and taxed. None of the other candidates in the race, from either party, share that position.

"Marijuana prohibition makes our communities less safe and wastes valuable law enforcement resources," Mizeur said, reports Jayne Miller at WBAL-TV. "Why should we treat something less toxic and addictive any differently than alcohol or tobacco?"

Mizeur said she'd use the funds to help pay for education. "Legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana will provide Maryland with a dedicated revenue stream to make overdue and critical investments in early childhood education," she said.

Both other candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination said they support the Maryland Legislature's move this year to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, but neither Attorney General Doug Gansler nor Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown is willing to support legalization.

"I do not support the legalization of marijuana at this time," Brown said. "The states of Colorado and Washington -- two states that have legalized it -- will provide an example of the socioeconomic challenges and pitfalls to marijuana legalization.

"We will learn from their experiences and assess whether addition changes to Maryland's law are warranted," Brown said.

U.S.: TV Ads Call Out Congressional Opponents of Medical Marijuana

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Patient advocates are producing ads in an effort to educate public, hold federal policymakers accountable

The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is running 30-second TV advertisements on MSNBC in Maryland and South Florida over the next few days to draw attention to Members of Congress who opposed medical marijuana reform in last week's House vote.

One of the ads focuses on Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), who spoke out on the House floor against a measure that restricts Justice Department funds spent on medical marijuana enforcement in states that have legalized its use. Despite the recent passage of a medical marijuana law in his State of Maryland, Rep. Harris made the claim Friday that "Marijuana is neither safe nor legal."

The other ad focuses on Democratic National Committee Chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who was one of only 18 House Democrats to vote against the medical marijuana measure last week. Notably, Rep. Wasserman Schultz voted contrary to several other Democrats in her South Florida delegation.

Maryland: 2 In 1 Day - 21st State To Allow Medical Marijuana, 18th State To Decriminalize Possession

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Gov. Martin O’Malley signs SB 923/HB 881, which would allow patients with serious illnesses to access medical marijuana; he will also sign SB 364 Monday, making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense

Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill into law Monday making Maryland the 21st state in the nation to allow medical marijuana. He will also sign a bill Monday making Maryland the 18th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“We applaud Gov. O’Malley for signing these important bills into law,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “The progress we’re seeing in Maryland is emblematic of what is taking place nationwide. Most Marylanders, like most Americans, are fed up with outdated marijuana prohibition policies and ready to start taking a more sensible approach.”

Senate Bill 923 and House Bill 881 are identical bills that allow state residents suffering from certain qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. Possession limits and regulations governing cultivation and dispensary facilities will be determined by a state-sanctioned commission prior to implementation. The measure will officially go into effect on June 1.

Maryland: Legislature Passes Medical Marijuana Bill, Set To Become 21st MMJ State

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HB 881 will protect patients from arrest and prosecution, approve physicians, license growers and distributors

The Maryland House of Delegates on Monday voted 125-11 to adopt HB 881, a medical marijuana bill that greatly improves upon the unworkable law that was adopted by the state last year. If signed by Governor Martin O'Malley, HB 881 will protect patients with severe pain, nausea, wasting syndrome, seizures, and severe muscle spasms from arrest and prosecution.

Qualified patients will be able to obtain their medicine from licensed medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTC), which will rely on licensed growers for their supply. Patients will be required to get approval from physicians who are approved by the state and must obtain an identification card before they will be eligible to access an MMTC.

"We're excited to welcome Maryland as the 21st medical marijuana state," said Mike Liszewski, policy director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), who testified before House and Senate committees. "This bill is a vast improvement over the current law in Maryland and will provide patients with needed protection from arrest and prosecution, and give them a means to safely and legally obtain medical marijuana."

HB 881 was sponsored by Maryland House Delegate Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore) and co-sponsored by nearly half of the House. A broad coalition including ASA, industry stakeholders, and Stop the Seizures, a group of parents of children suffering from seizure disorders, worked tirelessly to pass HB 881.

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