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Maryland House approves bill to legalize medical marijuana

The Maryland House of Delegates [official website] on Monday approved a bill [HB 1101 materials] to legalize medical marijuana by a vote of 108-28. The bill would also create a state commission to manage medical marijuana programs at participating academic medical research centers. While the amount of distribution centers that would be created is uncertain, neither the University of Maryland Medical System nor Johns Hopkins University have not demonstrated an interest in being involved in this distribution system. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley [official website] previously opposed the bill but has recently reversed course and now supports the measure. The bill, which would not take effect until at least 2016, now moves to the Senate, which last week approved a bill to decriminalize small amounts of the drug [JURIST report]. The House has yet to act on that bill.

If HB 1101 bill is approved, Maryland would join several states with laws that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Marijuana [JURIST news archive], however, remains a hot-button issue in the US and abroad. Last month the Michigan Supreme Court [official website] ruled that the private sale of medical marijuana is illegal [JURIST report]. Additionally, the top court in Ontario upheld Canada's general ban on marijuana [JURIST report]. In December an Arizona judge ruled that the state's medical marijuana law is constitutional [JURIST report] and instructed the state to permit dispensaries to open. In November lawmakers in Uruguay proposed legislation for state-regulated marijuana [JURIST report]. Also that month Washington [Initiative 502, PDF] and Colorado [Amendment 64, PDF] legalized the drug [JURIST report] via state ballot initiatives. Similarly, medical marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts [Harvard Crimson report] for the first time, as over 60 percent of voters approved a similar referendum [Petition 11-11, PDF]. The Oregon electorate, however, failed to pass a cannabis initiative [Measure 80, PDF] by a vote of approximately 55-to-45 percent [Examiner.com report].

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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