The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is stumbling and bumbling its way toward creating a medical marijuana system for the state, after more than four years of on-again, off-again efforts.

The commission vaguely promises that it will have a workable system with licensed marijuana growers, processors and sellers sometime soon. Maybe this summer? Maybe this fall? Who knows?

This is an outrage.

The commission has failed miserably in its sole mission, which was to help people in this state afflicted with chronic and disabling pain to gain legal access to a medicine that might be able to help them.

The commission was created by the Maryland General Assembly, which dictated a cumbersome, complicated system to control cannabis, lest marijuana somehow “fall into the wrong hands.” That is not the stated goal of the commission, but it is implicit in its work.

The law requires cannabis to be grown in Maryland and processed in Maryland before it can be sold in Maryland.

The commission is supposed to grant a license to grow the cannabis plants, a different license to process the cannabis into medically effective pills, oils and other products, and then still a third license to sell the products to the patients. Some businesses have applied for all three licenses.

Why was it done this way? To protect Maryland, ostensibly. But many critics have strong suspicions that the unstated goal was to assure that politically connected individuals would be at the front of the line to collect millions of dollars in profits when the marijuana business is fully legalized sometime in the near future. The Washington Post last year identified lawmakers, local officials, law enforcement officers, prominent business people, and people with strong political connections among those seeking licenses.

We have no position yet on full legalization of the drug. There are good arguments in favor and against. But it is very clear that the state system has completely and totally failed for more than three long years to deliver these drugs to people struggling with chronic pain. More than 6,500 patients have registered to receive the drug when it’s available.

Anyone who neither lives in near-constant pain, nor is related to someone who does, cannot understand what unremitting pain does to a body, and to a life. It can rob the patient of joy, and limit her to mere existence.

And here, with medical marijuana, we have a safe and effective drug that has helped so many patients ease their suffering. Maryland lawmakers accepted this as a fact when they approved use of the drug in 2013.

An analysis by the advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project found Maryland to be among the slowest states to get its cannabis program up and running, The Washington Post reported last year.

This inevitably leads to a most terrible realization: We have had a tool in medical marijuana to help alleviate the opioid crisis in this state, and we have allowed it to sit unused for three years, while the cannabis commission has dithered.

Many if not most people addicted to opioids were prescribed them as pain killers. They became addicted to a prescription drug, and when the prescriptions ran out, started using street drugs such as heroin.

How much better off they would have been if they could have been prescribed medical marijuana for pain relief in the first place? No evidence exists that medical marijuana leads to opioid addiction. How many lives might have been saved, and how many families might still be intact?

The commission cannot redeem itself for four years of nonfeasance, but it still could speed the process of putting pain relief into the hands of those who need it so desperately.

(27) comments

TomWheatley

One thing I find laughable about this 'medicinal' use is how the pot will be packaged in cute packages, different brands, etc like California does now. Clearly aimed at recreational use once Maryland goes the way of California in legalizing it. If it is to be a medicine, package the active ingredient and sell it at every CVS. Diversity of location solved.

Brookhawk

It's been a while since I checked, but the last time I did the Commission had 2 employees. Two. If they've managed to do anything with a budget that anemic, it's amazing, but perhaps that was the goal - underfund them so they can't carry the law out.

DickD

If marijuana is just used for medical purposes, with a prescription, it probably is not anymore harmless than many drugs,but it can be very addictive.

The government web site on marijuana:
https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana

From Web MD
http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/marijuana-use-and-its-effects#1
Though occasional use isn’t usually harmful, pot can affect your body and mind any time it gets into your system. Here’s what you need to know.

Physical Effects
Marijuana comes from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. It has an active ingredient called THC that makes you feel high. THC and other compounds in marijuana can also affect the way your body works.

Most people smoke the plant's dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds. But marijuana can also be mixed into food (like brownies, cookies, and lollipops), brewed as a tea, or inhaled with a vaporizer.

No matter how it gets into your system, it affects almost every organ in your body, and your nervous system and immune system, too. When you smoke pot, your body absorbs THC right away. (If you eat a baked good or another item, it may take much longer for your body to absorb THC, because it has to break down in your stomach before it enters your bloodstream). You may notice changes in your body right after you smoke. The effects usually stop after 3 or 4 hours.

https://www.addictions.com/marijuana/
Physically, smoking marijuana can lead to a number of consequences such as changes in appetite, changes in mood and increased heart rate. However, the physical signs and symptoms of marijuana addiction are not near those of an addiction to heroin or other hard drugs. Does this make smoking pot ok? Some would argue and say yes, while others explicitly state NO.

Psychologically, marijuana can increase anxiety and paranoia, lead to depression and reduce the brain’s ability to think clearly. Most of these symptoms will wear off as the drug itself wears off but for some, the psychological effects of marijuana can last many months or even years after the individual stops smoking pot. Anxiety and depression are very common outcomes of marijuana abuse and these two medical conditions are likely to lead to an individual’s desire to self-medicate or a need for prescribed medication to treat the condition appropriately.

Long term use or marijuana is said to have some addictive potential, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In most cases, first time users will not become addicted and even occasional users who smoke pot recreationally will not become addicted to the drug. However, daily, long term use of marijuana can lead to many harmful effects. Abruptly stopping or no longer using marijuana after a prolonged phase of marijuana use can lead to the following withdrawal symptoms:
Marijuana abuse and addiction can lead to anxiety and depression.

Irritability
Insomnia
Poor appetite
Anxiety
Depression
Agitation
Cravings
Mood swings

LJF0929

I have a great deal of difficulty believing that marijuana is addictive - I know and have known many successful, professional marijuana smokers in my life. Alcohol is addictive and it can ruin lives. Cocaine is addictive and can ruin lives. Heroin is addictive and almost always ruins lives. Painkillers and amphetamines are addictive and can ruin lives. There are many people in the world that simply enjoy the most often calming and medicinal effects of marijuana that live successful, long lives.

DickD

Yeah, there isn't any global warming either, but the scientific and medical community disagree with you.

Fawned

Uh based on what you just posted, there is no clear scientific consensus that marijuana is addictive. What you posted about it being addictive is very vague. The dependence potential for marijuana is low, especially compared to other drugs LJF mentioned such as cocaine and heroin. Hell, sugar is more addictive than marijuana. Just like with climate change, the sooner we dispel these myths about marijuana the better. I'm sick of debating it and ready for change!

public-redux

I didn't know there was a professional circuit for marijuana smokers. Do they have corporate logos all over their smoking suits just like the racing car drivers?

User1

Sure is, haven't you seen the race car with the Zig-Zag man on it?

LJF0929

Well said! America has to shift it's mindset to realizing marijuana is a safe, naturally grown medicine that could be prescribed in place of chemically laden, pharmaceutical factory produced ADDICTIVE painkillers. We would change the face of our opiod crisis in a matter of years. Doctors start many people down that road due to lack of alternative pain management. I don't worry about addiction to marijuana - place a pothead and a heroin addict in my house and I would feel 100% safe letting the pothead stay the night. The heroin addict, however, isn't trustworthy to make any decision other than how to get his/her next high. If patients can grow their own medicine yet we want to force them to pump billions through insurance - into the hands of the already filthy rich - what and who are we as a society?

littlehale

Eighty years ago this stuff grew wild along roadsides and railroad tracks all over the country. Now it has become a tool for political corruption and greed. Let it grow wild again and let folks in pain have it for free if they want it. If you worry about youngsters getting hold of it, try parenting for a change.

User1

Spot on!! Then Maryland has a process to grant licenses...licenses awarded based on set qualifications BUT before they were issued you have a lawsuit alleging that there were no black companies awarded licenses. Another delay. Would you have the best qualified grower, processor and distributor or would you want "2 white, 2 black and 2 other"? And how do you enforce abuse? Studies have recently showed an increase in traffic accidents due to people using marijuana. Look at the problem D.C. Is having. Law states "personal use at home" yet people out walking and smoking, driving and smoking. Secondhand dope smoke can affect everyone needing a drug test for their job. Just too many issues!! And yes is is addicting!! Better to go slow and sure than fast and reckless!

Fawned

"Studies have recently showed an increase in traffic accidents due to people using marijuana." Lies, fairy tales, and fallacies. "And yes is is addicting!!" More lies, fairy tales, and fallacies. Meanwhile I bet you drink alcohol and eat sugar, substances that are much much worse for you than marijuana but you have no problem with them!

DickD

Glad to have someone that was here 80 years ago to tell us. [lol]

User1

What about putting a heroin addict and a pothead in a car on your street...who would you trust then? With a pothead just make sure you hide all your food. So your good with having stoners walking/driving all over! Speak about the living dead!

LJF0929

I don't want anyone driving on my street while under the influence of anything. That would be illegal. But if I had to get in a car accident with either one, I would bet the pothead was driving below the MPH and the heroin addict above the limit! One sounds much safer to me!

DickD

And if you are killed by either one, will you know the difference. Best yet, don't let either of them drive.

User1

And how do you know this? You seen stoners driving? Take a trip to DC and you see them all over. Safer than the other? Both being illegal.

Fawned

They've done studies that show being stoned while driving only has a small effect on the way they drive and it doesn't cause crashes. You're no more likely to get in an accident as a sober person. Stoned drivers slow down and are more cautious. Another myth to stop spreading!! People driving while drunk is the more dangerous, yet we still have alcohol readily available everywhere you turn. I wonder why!

User1

And you know this how??? Research the following for the increase in traffic accidents; Washington Times 5/16, Washington Post 8/14, CBS news, Seattle news 2/14, USA Today 6/14. For being addictive research Drugabuse.GOV, the National Instutite on Drug Abuse (NIDA), AAA, and the Huffington Post which states "medical marijuana is #1 of the top 5 most abused prescribed drugs. So if it's not addictive then let's settle for "abused". There are my facts to back me up.

DickD

Looks like User has you on this one! [lol]

DickD

From CNN:
http://money.cnn.com/2016/05/10/news/stoned-driving-fatal-accidents/index.html
Stoned driving can be as serious a problem as drunk driving.
Fatal accidents involving stoned drivers have soared in the state of Washington since marijuana was legalized there, according to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. But it's difficult to determine whether a high-on-pot driver is too impaired to drive, according to a separate study from the same group.

Fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana more than doubled in 2014. Pot was involved in 17% of fatal crashes in Washington in 2014, up from 8% in 2013 -- the year before recreational marijuana was allowed there.

Studies in California show that marijana is a major cause of bodily injuries in California.
http://drugfreecalifornia.org/PDF/trafficaccidents.pdf

Fawned

Ok here are my sources:
https://www.attn.com/stories/891/effects-of-marijuana-on-driving
Regarding the AAA Washington State study: "Marijuana cannot be pinned as the sole reason behind the crashes—especially when two-thirds of the drivers had other drugs or alcohol in their systems—but it was a factor." You have to take alcohol out of the equation, alcohol mixed with any drug makes driving much worse.
http://norml.org/library/item/marijuana-and-driving-a-review-of-the-scientific-evidence
http://norml.org/library/item/cannabis-and-driving-a-scientific-and-rational-review

This is not black and white stoned driving is bad and causes accidents. Saying that just is not true. So once again I would like to say that ya'll need to stop spreading myths and move on from this anti-pot propaganda.

DickD

Fawned, please allow me to point out even your rebuttal includes the word "sole". So, even in your rebuttal, you are not sure. And the other stories are based on empirical data that shows there has been an effect.

Fawned

Dick just admit ya don't know dick about marijuana [lol]

DickD

Fawned, if you can't support your comments with facts, fine, don't get nasty.

MD1756

Fawned has looked it up on the internet and found one or two sources of information to support his/her position and therefore must be an expert. That's how Fawned knows.

DickD

"Marijuana DUI Laws in Maryland
Very recently Maryland decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. That is possession under ten grams. Even though marijuana is decriminalized, it does not mean that driving under the influence of marijuana is acceptable. Being impaired by marijuana and operating a motor vehicle is still a violation of § 21-902 (d). Penalties for that are the same as when there is impairment by cocaine, heroin, or any other kinds of illegal drugs. Even though Maryland decriminalized the possession of marijuana, they have not decriminalized driving under the influence of the drug.

The maximum penalty for a first offense violation of § 21-902 (d) is same as an alcohol DUI that is one year of incarceration, $1,000 fine and 12 points on the person’s driver’s license."

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