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Posted at 4:00 PM ET, 02/28/2011

O'Malley administration opposes medical marijuana bill

By Ann Marimow

Gov. Martin O'Malley's chief public health adviser Monday dealt a potentially fatal blow to efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Maryland, opposing legislation under consideration in the General Assembly in part because he said it does "does not provide for meaningful limits."

Joshua M. Sharfstein, secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said the proposal does not sufficiently limit the number of dispensaries, quantity of marijuana or types of conditions for which marijuana can be recommended by a doctor. The health department's analysis also found that it would cost several million dollars and take at least several years to set up a state program. Sharfstein suggested launching a study to come up with an alternative.

The position was a reversal for the O'Malley administration, which last year supported a similar bill before Sharfstein -- the former second-in-command at the Food and Drug Administration -- joined the department and conducted a more thorough analysis.

medpot.jpgThe legislation has broad bipartisan support, and Maryland would join 15 states and the District of Columbia in allowing marijuana use for medical purposes. But at a joint House committee hearing Monday, lawmakers expressed concerns about the interplay with federal law and how to ensure that the drug is being used for medical --not recreational -- purposes.

Del. Dan. K. Morhaim (D-Baltimore County), the bill's sponsor and a physician, called the administration's analysis flawed and overblown, and said the proposal ensures that the marijuana would be used for "bona fide medical purposes only."

"While we debate and wait, more of our fellow citizens suffer," said Morhaim, who told Sharfstein he was open to working together to address the administration's concerns.

"It's been plenty hard to get this through. I don't know what's going to happen this session," he said.

Morhaim was joined by Sen. David R. Brinkley (R-Frederick), a Senate sponsor, who made a personal appeal as a former cancer patient, and by other patients who have used marijuana to cope with the side effects from cancer treatments such as nausea and appetite loss.

By Ann Marimow  | February 28, 2011; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  Ann Marimow, General Assembly, Governor  
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Seems like a false argument from Sharfstein...
How unfortunate to those who are ill and could benefit from use of medical MJ.

Posted by: 10bestfan | February 28, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Saying he opposes the fact that it doesn't have meaningful limits seems to me like a way of saying go back to the drawing board, rather than "I will never support this." It may not happen this year, but I don't see why the legislators can't legislate something with a cap on how much someone can grow. I am in favor of legalization, and this doesn't seem that unreasonable to me...

Posted by: vtavgjoe | February 28, 2011 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Several years to set up a state program? That sounds like another "efficient" state run study. Years?? Thats crazy. Nothing takes years. California is making a lot of money on taxes in the medical marijuana business. We should follow suit.

Posted by: vector1 | February 28, 2011 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Quote-"The health department's analysis also found that it would cost several million dollars and take at least several years to set up a state program. Sharfstein suggested launching a study to come up with an alternative." That's politically rhetoric, lets look at the hard numbers. In Colorado Springs, Co, average monthly tax revenue from medical marijuana has gone from $4,000 to $40,000 during the last year, although total revenue is still just a fraction of the $106 million in taxes collected annually by the city." Did you catch that $106,000,000 (that's millions) on Medical Marijuana Taxes alone from 1 city alone. Who's kidding who here? Marijuana is not only harmless it is therapeutic because of the existence of the Endocannabinoid System found in all lifeforms from the Nematode Worm to Human Beings.

Posted by: TheDeacon | March 1, 2011 12:38 AM | Report abuse

If you don't like it, nothing will satisfy you. California has a fine system. You don't have a doctor's recommendation, you don't get into the dispensary, period. They manage fine out there. Maryland could do well to imitate them.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | March 1, 2011 2:39 AM | Report abuse

BTW, Train Wreck, shown in the photo, is a really good sativa.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | March 1, 2011 2:41 AM | Report abuse

Advocating for a study/commission/task force is the kiss of death for any bill. Sharfstein clearly does not want the bill at all and people who think otherwise are simply politically clueless.

Posted by: h20andoil | March 1, 2011 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Just Legalise it.
People with serious medical conditions are suffering with out it.
Our legal system is overwhelmingly burdened fruitlessly trying to stop it.
Young peoples lives are ruined by its illegality.
Our police and courts would better spend their time dealing with violent criminals.
We are losing out on serious tax dollars.
We are funding criminal enterprizes by keeping it illegal.
It could be better controled if legal.
the list goes on and on.
The prohibition of marijuana makes as much sense as locking people up for being witches.

Stop the madness.

Posted by: MarilynManson | March 1, 2011 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Sharfstein obviously does not want medical mayjane under any terms. "Study" is code for forget it. We don't need such small minded prople in the health system.

Posted by: jckdoors | March 1, 2011 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Fire Sharfstein now!
Obviously he works for the big pharmaceuticals, and not the citizens of Maryland.
His work at the FDA should of been a red flag.

Posted by: MarilynManson | March 1, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

People are dying in incredible agony, pain and suffering.

People have chronic conditions and are forced to take costly medications that have severe side affects.

How much longer must the people of Maryland wait for some simple kindness, compassion and the freedom to make our own private life/health choices without the fear of repression from the police state under orders from the big corporate pharmaceuticals?

I will never vote for any politician who opposes medical marijuana.
And I will fight to remove those already elected.

I refuse to die a slow painful death simply because of uncaring corporate owned politicians.

Posted by: MarilynManson | March 1, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

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