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Medical Marijuana Bill Advances In Maryland

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If legislation clears the state Senate, patients could use marijuana to treat symptoms as soon as 2016.
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If legislation clears the state Senate, patients could use marijuana to treat symptoms as soon as 2016.

A measure to put Maryland on the path to developing a medical marijuana program in the next few years has advanced in the state Senate.

The Senate gave the measure preliminary approval Friday. That puts lawmakers on track to vote on the bill Monday, the last day of the legislative session.

The bill would create a state commission to oversee medical marijuana programs at academic medical research centers that choose to participate.

Maryland's Secretary of Health Joshua Sharfstein is supporting the measure. Last year, Sharfstein opposed it because he was concerned the federal government could prosecute state employees. This year, the bill was changed so Gov. Martin O'Malley could suspend the program if it is determined state employees could be prosecuted for participating.

The House of Delegates already has approved the bill.

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