weedDuring the last day of the legislative session the Maryland Senate overwhelmingly approved a medical marijuana bill. It passed in a vote of 42 yes to 4 no. The bill, HB 1101, had previously cleared the House of Delegates last month. It now goes to the deskĀ  of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

While O’Malley opposed a similar legislation in the past due to concerns about federal interference, earlier this year his administration made it known that he would not stand in the way of this bill. O’Malley is expected to either sign the law or allow it to become law without his signature. Even if theoretically O’Malley did veto the bill, it passed by large enough margins in both chambers that the legislature could override his veto.

The bill would produce one of the tightest and most highly regulated medical marijuana systems in the United States. It would establish a Medical Marijuana Commission to oversee the issue. Academic medical centers could apply to run medical marijuana compassionate use programs. Qualified patients would be able to get therapeutic marijuana from these approved medical centers. It will likely take several years for the system is up and running.

Assuming the bill soon becomes law, Maryland will be the 19th state with some form of medical marijuana.

Photo by Coleen Danger released under Creative Commons License