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The Maryland state senate has passed a measure by a vote of 42-4 that puts Maryland on a path to developing a medical marijuana program over the next several years.
House Bill 1101 creates a state commission to oversee medical marijuana programs at academic medical research centers that choose to participate.
Republican Sen. David Brinkley is happy his colleagues were not worried about how the bill puts the state at odds with the federal government's stance on medical marijuana.
"Some of these cancer patients, some of these people who are very sick, they're not doing this because they want to," Brinkley says. "They do feel this is an element of last resort. And the last thing we should do is criminalize who they are, why they're sick, that they're sick, and their caregivers."
Maryland's Secretary of Health Joshua Sharfstein also supports 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 has already approved the bill, so it moves to the desk of Gov. Martin O'Malley for his signature.