Pubdate: Fri, 18 Sep 2015
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2015 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Bobby A. Zirkin
Note: Maryland Sen. Bobby A. Zirkin, a Democrat, is chairman of the 
Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.


Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh's position on medical 
cannabis is both disappointing and baffling.

And it cannot be permitted to stand.

Under Mr. Schuh's proposal, medical cannabis facilities, essentially 
the pharmacies to distribute medication to suffering patients, and 
all matters of manufacturing and distribution of this medication, 
would be made illegal in Anne Arundel County. As a member of the 
House of Delegates, Mr. Schuh voted against medical marijuana and to 
continue making possession of small amounts of marijuana an offense 
punishable by months in jail. In combination with his current stance, 
if Mr. Schuh has his way, citizens of Anne Arundel County, and across 
our state with debilitating diseases such as cancer, AIDS and 
glaucoma would continue to be forced to choose between obtaining 
helpful medication and being a criminal.

Mr. Schuh would continue to force our sick and dying patients to 
contact their local drug dealer rather than their personal physician 
if they sought appropriate medical treatment.

His stance is ludicrous on its face.

Over my18 years in the General Assembly, and now as chairman of the 
Judicial Proceedings Committee, I have witnessed the evolution of 
this issue here in Maryland and across the nation.

I have had the opportunity to listen to hundreds of Marylanders share 
their stories about their own battles with cancer and other ailments 
and the efficacy of marijuana as a treatment option.

I have heard from the loved ones of those sick patients telling 
stories about how the law forced them to go find drug dealers, 
putting themselves and their loved ones in harm's way in order to 
receive helpful medication. I have listened to doctors and caregivers 
sharing the research about the tremendous value and promise of 
cannabis as a medicine.

The old and tired arguments of the 1980s have given way, through 
decades of actual research, to a growing consensus about the medical 
value of cannabis to assist in a wide variety of ailments and disease.

Over these years, the legislature has worked extremely hard in a 
bipartisan way to bring relief to the tens of thousands of 
Marylanders who simply seek helpful treatments and pain management 
for their disease.

Leaders of both parties have worked together on this issue along with 
the medical community and citizens from all across Maryland to ensure access.

This is the way government is supposed to work.

Mr. Schuh cannot be permitted to succeed in his quest to continue the 
criminalization of Maryland's sick patients.

Citizens across our state, in every jurisdiction, deserve access to 
helpful medication regardless of Mr. Schuh's adherence to a 
philosophy long since discredited. Mr. Schuh warns of marijuana as a 
gateway drug and of teen use and of concerns about increased crime.

Those arguments make no sense in relation to the issue of medical marijuana.

States across our nation have moved to legalize medical marijuana, 
and in no state have any of the issues raised by Mr. Schuh come to fruition.

None. His arguments are nothing more than bumper sticker slogans 
rehashed over and over again from the public relations campaigns of 
the "war on drugs" and have no relationship to fact. And certainly no 
relationship to the issue of medical cannabis.

If the federal government would get its act together and move 
marijuana from a Schedule I controlled substance, this entire debate 
would be moot. Patients would be able to get this medication like 
they get every other medication - from a pharmacy.

Unfortunately, the inability of our federal counterparts to move has 
forced states to act in this matter.

And action was necessary to stop the needless suffering and 
criminalization of citizens whose sole offense was being forced to 
deal with painful disease.

I hope that someday soon, our friends in Washington will act to stop 
this nonsense and treat this medication like all others.

Until such time, Maryland should.

We are one Maryland, not a place where one sick patient is treated 
differently than another simply based on what county they live in. 
Local law must not be permitted to create such inequities for 
suffering citizens.

The General Assembly apparently must act once again to ensure that 
every Marylander is treated equally, especially in their greatest time of need.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom