HB 1321 Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission - Treatment, Certification, Licensing, and Registration


BY:  Susan Cochran, President

DATE: March 13, 2014

The League of Women Voters of Maryland supports HB 1321, Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission - Treatment, Certification, Licensing, and Registration

The LWVMD is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government.  Small groups of LWV members research an issue and then compile a fact sheet that members use to discuss the topic and try to reach a consensus on positions for purposes of action and advocacy. After studying and discussing “Drug and Controlled Substances Abuse, Policies and Laws in Maryland,” the LWVMD agreed to support the legalization of marijuana for any use, including medicinal uses, subject to restrictions on production and distribution.

In approaching this study, the League looked at the history of federal as well as Maryland, laws governing the sale and use of controlled substances. The first federal law regulating drug use, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, required manufacturers to list ingredients and warnings on labels, but no prohibitions were imposed. The Narcotics Control Act of 1914 was intended to regulate the sale of opium, heroin, and cocaine by taxation rather than by prohibition. The Bureau of Narcotics was established in 1932 to take over federal enforcement of opiate and cocaine laws. The Bureau encouraged states to adopt laws criminalizing the use of marijuana. By 1937, when 46 states had laws against marijuana, most with the same rigorous penalties as those for morphine, heroin, and cocaine, the federal government outlawed the non-medicinal possession or sale of pot. Despite testimony from the American Medical Association that recognized marijuana as medicine in good standing, products containing marijuana were all dropped from the U.S. Pharmacopeia by 1941.

Twenty of 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have now legalized the medical use of marijuana.

Medical marijuana is used as treatment for the symptoms of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, pain, glaucoma, epilepsy, and other conditions. There are dozens of peer-reviewed studies, prominent medical organizations, and major government reports that point out the safety and effectiveness of use for these illnesses. Marijuana (cannabis) has been used as medicine throughout world history.

Last year the General Assembly passed HB 1101, which created a Medical Marijuana Program for Maryland. However, nothing has come to fruition since its passage. It appears unlikely that the University of Maryland Medical School and Johns Hopkins or the other academic institutions are planning to set up the trials delineated in the bill or to dispense the marijuana. This leaves the patients of Maryland without the help of this drug that could give them great relief, when no other drugs have relieved their symptoms.

HB 1321 lays out strong parameters for the patients, physicians, and the commission on diseases; types of marijuana products; licensing; and regulations. This bill deserves to be passed to move forward the ability of physicians to prescribe marijuana for patients for whom it is the safest and most effective drug. The bill gives patients a safe source of marijuana.

The LWVMD urges this Committee to pass HB 1321 to allow access to medical marijuana by Marylanders.


This testimony was submitted after the hearing.