Pubdate: Sun, 20 Sep 2015
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2015 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Danielle Hodgkin


The Anne Arundel Collation for Compassionate Care believes that 
County Executive Steve Schuh's anti-compassionate care legislation 
discriminates against county residents who suffer from the 
devastating effects of debilitating health conditions ("Medical 
marijuana ban runs into doubts," Sept. 15).

Patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, seizures, autoimmune 
diseases, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries 
and other debilitating health conditions should not have to suffer in 
the darkness. They should not have to travel long distances to 
procure a medicine that their doctor and health professionals from 
around the world have deemed effective and beneficial.

Anne Arundel County residents should be afforded the right to local 
access to medicinal marijuana, which can improve their way of life. 
County Executive Schuh's reasoning for his anti-compassionate care 
legislation, while perhaps well intentioned, is misguided.

Mr. Schuh was quoted as saying, "The quantities that are allowed to 
be dispensed under the current Maryland law are rather frightening to 
me. We don't want to have a situation where everyone who is 
prescribed medical marijuana is in effect a little miniature dealer."

This concern is unfounded because current black market conditions 
prevent this from being an issue. Across the country, medicinal 
cannabis obtained at a dispensary is typically more expensive than 
black market cannabis due to taxes and fees applied by local and 
state governments. A drug dealer, someone who sells drugs for a 
profit, will not obtain medicinal cannabis for a price higher than he 
can distribute on the black market. That is basic economics. One 
doesn't buy at a high price and sell for a lower price, at a loss.

Executive Schuh has also been quoted as saying, "By enacting this 
legislation, Anne Arundel County policymakers and citizens will be 
able to monitor and assess the impacts of the Maryland marijuana law 
on the various counties and on the state as a whole. I do not want 
Anne Arundel County to be a guinea pig on this issue."

Luckily for Anne Arundel County, we will not have to serve as "guinea 
pig" on this issue because 23 states and the District of Columbia 
have legalized medicinal cannabis. California, Colorado, Arizona, New 
Mexico, Maine, Rhode Island, Montana, Michigan and Oregon are 
currently utilizing dispensaries to sell medical cannabis. The 
California program has been established for almost two decades and 
has already filled the "guinea pig" shoes.

Rather than fearing the unknown, the Schuh administration should seek 
out advice from local jurisdictions across the country that are 
operating successful medical marijuana programs. Rather than 
wait-and-see, the administration should be proactive in safely and 
effectively structuring Anne Arundel County's program.

Perhaps the executive's most grossly off-base opinion is rooted 
solely in greed. The Schuh administration noted that the "Anne 
Arundel County Economic Development Corp. expressed concerns about 
the implications for Anne Arundel County's largely federal workforce 
and the limited direct economic impact on the county itself."

I interpret this comment to mean that based upon the large number of 
federal employees who reside in the county (and will not partake in 
the program), the county will not see an "impactful" amount of 
revenue from instituting a medical cannabis program.

In other words, it's all about the money. This view is downright 
sickening. The medicinal cannabis program should be established to 
help improve the quality of life of county residents who are 
suffering from debilitating health conditions. It should not be 
established just to make money off of the sick.

I urge County Executive Schuh to be proactive in developing Anne 
Arundel County's compassionate care program and not introduce 
legislation that bans medicinal cannabis.

Danielle Hodgkin, Gambrills
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom