|On Thursday, Nov. 13, a panel of state legislators in Maryland moved another step closer to medical marijuana legislation that now seems like an inevitability.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the state panel approved a set of rules that will govern and regulate the growers and dispensaries of medical marijuana. Maryland’s licensing fees for both growers and dispensaries will be among the highest in the country.
The panel also drafted rules for medical marijuana patients that will allow them to obtain medical marijuana in either a liquid or smokable form, the Baltimore Sun reports.
The panel’s approval of these rules marks a crucial step in the state’s road toward legalization — the regulations were originally due two months ago, but the panel has delayed a decision twice. This is the second overall attempt Maryland’s lawmakers have made at creating a feasible medical marijuana law in as many years.
While the earliest possible time frame for legalization won’t allow patients to obtain medical marijuana until 2016, many patients are looking forward to being able to treat their various illnesses and ailments legally, the Baltimore Sun reports.
“Medicinal marijuana needs to be implemented in Maryland yesterday,” Dr. William J. Alloway, chair of the Maryland Hemp and Cannabis Business Association, said in a statement. “Every day, I have to tell patients seeking to safely reduce pain and inflammation that Maryland is still not ready.”
A growing number of states have warmed to the idea of allowing their residents to use marijuana, once taboo, for medical purposes. Currently, 23 states along with the District of Columbia have deemed it legal to use medical marijuana.
This is because of the proven benefits it offers to patients. Marijuana consumption has been shown to trigger neurogenesis — the production of brain cells. In states where medical marijuana use is legal, patients use it to treat pain, muscle spasms, anxiety, nausea and a wide variety of other ailments.
According to CBS Baltimore, the panel’s set of rules will now head to the state’s secretary of health and mental hygiene, who must approve it before the state moves forward with legislation.