NORML.ORG – Maryland: Governor Signs Measure Expanding Limited Legal Protections For Medical Cannabis Patients

Annapolis, MD: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley this week signed legislation , Senate Bill 308, that expands the state’s eight-year-old ‘affirmative defense’ law . Senate Bill 308 removes fines and criminal penalties for citizens who, at trial, successfully raise an ‘affirmative defense’ establishing that they possessed limited amounts of marijuana for medical purposes. Under present law, patients who successfully raise an ‘affirmative defense’ of medical necessity at trial still face a misdemeanor conviction (but no jail time) and a $100 fine. Citizens who cultivate cannabis or who possess quantities of marijuana above one ounce may still raise an ‘affirmative defense’ at trial and, if successful, will have their sentence mitigated. As initially introduced, SB 308 and its House companion bill sought to establish a government-regulated program to provide qualified patients with legal access to state-licensed producers and distributors of medical cannabis. However, the measure was rewritten in March after Maryland’s Department of Health secretary publicly testified against it. State lawmakers are expected to revisit the possibility of regulating the production and distribution of medical marijuana next year, after the issue is further examined by a legislative ‘work group’ of medical, legal, and law enforcement professionals. Additional information regarding Maryland’s medical marijuana affirmative defense law is available at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=3391#Maryland .

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NORML.ORG – Maryland: Governor Signs Measure Expanding Limited Legal Protections For Medical Cannabis Patients