ANNAPOLIS — Almost four hours had passed in the Maryland Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee meeting on Wednesday before Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll) walked to the lectern.
Hough said he would be brief, and quickly had a specific description for Senate Bill 179.
“This is my libertarian bill of the year,” Hough told the Judicial Proceedings Committee.
His proposal would allow those who use medical marijuana to purchase, carry or possess firearms, or to be issued a handgun permit.
A fiscal and policy note attached to Hough’s bill notes that under current state law, those that are “addicted to a controlled dangerous substance or ... a habitual user” could face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Since marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled dangerous substance, there is a conflict between state and federal laws, Hough said.
“Unfortunately, I, as a state senator, can’t fix the federal laws from right here,” he said. “But there’s been a longtime conflict on marijuana laws with our state laws and the federal laws.”
A few opponents testified at Wednesday’s hearing with concerns about confusion this would cause for Maryland residents between state and federal law.
But John Mountjoy, vice president of Maryland Shall Issue, a state nonprofit that advocates for gun ownership rights statewide, had a slightly different take. Maryland Shall Issue was not taking a stance on Hough’s bill, but he did.
“Personally, as a libertarian, I support it profoundly,” Mountjoy said. “I don’t believe that exercising medical medication, whether it’s NyQuil or cannabis, should take away another constitutionally guaranteed civil right.”
Hough said after the hearing that he’s concerned the House will kill the bill again this year, as many delegates view it simply as a pro-gun bill.
He also said there are other conflicts with state law regarding medical marijuana.
“We are already in conflict when it comes to medical marijuana, decriminalization of marijuana, with the federal government and the state,” Hough said. “So that conflict is already in existence, and we’re already trampling all over that constantly.”
“If you’re going to say to people, marijuana is a medicine — and not everyone agrees with that — but the state has made that determination … so how can you therefore say you can no longer own a gun, but you can be prescribed oxycodone and much more serious pharmaceuticals, and still have your firearm?” he added.
The bill still faces a vote in the Senate before heading over to the House. Co-sponsors include Sen. Justin Ready (R-Carroll) and Sen. William Smith (D-Montgomery).
Krimm named as alternate representative to regional planning board
Del. Carol Krimm (D-Frederick) has been named as the state’s alternate member to the National Region Capital Transportation Planning Board.
House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County) named Krimm and Del. Marc Korman (D-Montgomery) as the state’s representative to the board earlier this week.
The board is tasked with helping making policy, providing resources for Washington, D.C., and regional transportation agencies along with ensuring those groups comply with federal law.