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Tony Bowles was a plaintiff in ASA’s successful lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol. He has taken action time and time again on behalf of patients in need of medical marijuana. He now lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, where he is working hard to help improve Maryland’s medical marijuana law. Tony can be reached at email@example.com
Marylanders have much to be hopeful for this year with the introduction of legislation, by Delegate Henry Heller (D-Montgomery County) that creates a task force to study the issues related to medical marijuana throughout the state of Maryland, and the recent statement from the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder backing President Obama’s campaign promise to end federal interference in states with medical marijuana laws, telling reporters that ending federal medical marijuana raids “is now American policy.”
This is very good news! These are major steps in the path to improving our state’s medical marijuana law. Currently, individuals in Maryland who possess a physician’s recommendation to use marijuana for therapeutic purposes are vulnerable to arrest and prosecution. Maryland chapters of Americans for Safe Access believe Maryland patients deserve real protections.
In his recent speech, President Obama stressed the importance of practicing efficient, cost-effective government.
Law enforcement is under increased budgetary pressure in these tough times. Study commissions such as the one proposed in HB1339 allow the type of evaluation necessary to determine if a law is effectively using police, judicial, and tax-payer resources. The proposed commission will examine the consequences and long term effects of the Darrell Putnam Compassionate Use Act: an open-ended, vague law. Closing legislative loopholes not only protects Maryland citizens, but will reduce unnecessary expenditure and allow Maryland to weather the financial storm.
If the bill passes, the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene would be required to staff a Governor-appointed task force to evaluate whether the current state law is effective, fair, and equally enforced across all state jurisdictions in addition to other issues concerning the limited, therapeutic use of cannabis. (Watch a video of Delegate Heller talking about HB 1339, approximately halfway through.)
Delegate Heller’s introduction of HB1339 is the culmination of Maryland ASA chapters organizing together and shows how hard work pays off.
Our goal is to improve Maryland’s medical marijuana law, and it’s important for us to get organized now. There is a lot of work to be done. This is a serious issue and every Marylander should know it could affect them. President Obama recently said, “We don’t do what’s easy, we do what’s necessary.”
The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on HB1339 March 24, 2009, at 1pm. This is fantastic news and puts this legislation on a SUPER fast track. April 13th is the final day of the legislative session and our hearing is in less than 3 weeks. There is not a lot of time, but I am confident we can pass this legislation and be much closer to securing safe and legal access for medical cannabis patients across the state.
It’s been a little over a year since I helped start the Montgomery County Chapter of Americans for Safe Access, and I’ve watched us grow from only having dozens to now having hundreds of Marylanders join us in support. In fact, every week I get calls from individuals that either have no knowledge of our states medical marijuana law, or others that say the law simply isn’t working for them. It’s become abundantly clear to me that Maryland’s medical marijuana law is Broken!
I look forward to working with many of you to fix our states broken medical marijuana law and hope you’ll join us in our efforts soon.