Medical marijuana measures head to governor
Maryland will study how to develop a medical marijuana distribution system, and decriminalize small amounts of pot for sick people, under legislation now headed to Gov. Martin O'Malley's desk for a promised signature.
The more controversial portion of the two-part bill provides an "affirmative defense" for sick people arrested with 1 ounce or less of marijuana. If the person convinces a judge or jury of a "medical necessity" for the drug, he or she would be found not guilty.
The new law will go a step further that what Maryland already has on the books. Right now, a person showing medical necessity receives a lower sentence -- a $100 citation -- but still has a conviction on his or her criminal record.
Also under the legislation, the state will begin to study of how to develop and implement a medical marijuana distribution system. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use.