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Marijuana Dispensaries Locked Down in Maryland

By Richard Farrell 05/19/2014

They don’t call Maryland ‘Little America’ for nothing. It may be one of the smallest states, but it has a balanced population with people of color comprising close to one third, and medical marijuana legal since 2013. The only remaining problem is setting up the weed dispensaries.

Under current legislation, this is all but impossible because:

  • Only a hospital-based organization with an academic medical program may dispense. The John Hopkins and Maryland Universities are distinctly uncool about doing it, and there may be no other legal options.

  • The weed is supposed to come from the federal government, which is about as likely as finding weed strains where the smoke drops to the ground on a windy day.

  • The law does also allow five state licensed marijuana farmers. However, these must prove the stuff is only for medical programs. This is difficult without monitoring equipment such as you find in the Pentagon.

The State’s Medical Marijuana Commission sure a job ahead of it to get the current system to work. Medical marijuana without a weed dispensary makes no sense at all. Under current rules, less than ten grams can mean ninety days in jail plus a $500 fine. Blacks are three times more likely to be hit on, despite that fact that they are only 30% of the population.

A joint weed review by the Marijuana Policy Project and the American Civil Liberties Union determined that 53% of Marylanders favor treating marijuana and alcohol the same way. Most commentators interpret this as saying they have no objection to a marijuana dispensary on a high street corner.

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jnr (D) has been in the hot seat for a quarter century thanks to his habit of listening to the people. In January 2014, he told The Washington Post that he was firmly behind moves to legalize weed.

I favor the legalization and taxation of marijuana, with restrictions,” Miller told media representative John Wagner “I know where people are going to be a generation or two from now.” He seemed confident of his chances in the Senate, although Governor Martin O’Malley (R) could hold things up in the house. “He is always slow on issues like this,” the Senate President muttered.

Despite this, Senators Jamie Raskin (D) and Alan Kittleman (R) are co-sponsoring a bill to legalize marijuana in Maryland - and with it weed dispensaries by implication. In terms of their proposal, distribution and sale would be legal within the rules, prosecutorial costs would be minimal, and the tax base would increase. According to talk on the street, home gardening would be disallowed though.

Overall, it seems that hopes of following the lead of other states like Colorado are hanging on a knife-edge in ‘Little America’ still. Marijuana and 2014 are going to be hot news throughout the year it seems. Watch this space for more of the same.

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