Medical Cannabis Comes to #MACoCon

At the MACo Summer Conference session entitled “Medical Cannabis Comes to Maryland” audience members received updates from members of the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission on state regulations for medical cannabis and on the implementation timeline and process.

“This is medicine. Medicine for sick people.” Panelists Hannah Byron, Executive Director of the the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, and Deborah Miran, Member of the Commission started the session by emphasizing the medical importance of cannabis and distinguishing it from its recreational counterpart. Miran presented on the science of the endocannabinoid system and the therapeutic properties of cannabis that help with a number of diseases ranging from mood and anxiety disorders to neuropathic pain, Huntington’s disease, leukemia and glaucoma to name a few.  Miran also shared data on the safety profile of cannabis noting that there is zero percent chance of a lethal dose as it would take a 70kg man to smoke 1,500 pounds in 15 minutes.

"Medical Cannabis Comes to Maryland" Moderator and Panelists
“Medical Cannabis Comes to Maryland” Moderator and Panelists

Byron then presented on the nuts and bolts of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Program. Starting first with background on the law that created the commission and granted its authority, Byron then delved into the pending regulations and details for implementation, including the overall licensing process, limits on the number of licenses, and authorized forms of cannabis (for instance leaf products converted into products such as ointments, vaporizable extracts and salves). In regards to growers and dispensers the overview included independent testing and facility inspections; types of growing premises; security requirements; and product packaging and labels.  Byron also discussed registration of patients, physicians, and the patient-physician relationship. Noting that there must be a bona fide patient-physician relationship and that patients will be limited to a 30 day supply with a written certification.  The presentation concluded with comments on state versus federal law, and physician protection.

Much discussion during the Q&A portion of the session centered on zoning requirements. The panelists assured audience members that any facility would have to meet all local planning and zoning requirements. The panelists also acknowledged banking issue faced by jurisdictions across the country and the push on Capitol Hill to address the problem.

The session was moderated by the Honorable John F. Barr, Commissioner, Washington County; First Vice President, Maryland Association of Counties and held from 1:00 pm – 1:45 pm on Thursday, August 13, 2015. This year’s MACo Summer Conference theme was “Energize. Mobilize. Capitalize.” For more information about MACo’s Summer Conference, please visit www.mdcounties.org/MACoCon.

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