The Maryland Senate's medical marijuana bill differs in key ways from the House of Delegates' version.
The Maryland Senate has given initial approval to a bill expanding the state's medical marijuana program. But it's different in a few key ways than a measure passed in the House of Delegates.
The Senate version expands the number of would-be licensed growers of medical marijuana. The House's bill allows for five, but Montgomery County Democrat Jamie Raskin, sponsor of the Senate's measure, says his colleagues did not want to put an "artificial cap" on the number of potential growers, believing that might limit access to the drug. The Senate bill allows the state commission that will award the growing licenses to determine the number to give.
"We don't want this to be a license to make money," Del. Raskin says. "We understand that there is a lot of money in it. But we want to keep the patient's interest at the heart of what we're doing here."
Dispensaries of medical marijuana are more tightly regulated under the Senate bill, according to Raskin.
"They cannot be growers under our legislation. In other words, we want to break up the vertical integration model because we think that is a recipe for a potential monopoly and the prices going up," Raskin says.
Lawmakers in both chambers have less than two weeks to reconcile the differences in their bills—something Raskin is hopeful can happen.