MD: Medical Marijuana Bill Confuses Senate

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Proposed legislation to prohibit medical marijuana at the Washington County Detention Center caused confusion Tuesday in the state Senate, as a Baltimore City lawmaker questioned what patients enrolled in the medical marijuana program might do if they are incarcerated.

There have been two cases in Washington County thus far, Sheriff Douglas Mullendore told the Senate Finance Committee last week.

Del. William J. Wivell, R-Washington, presented the same bill to a House committee on Tuesday and heard no opposition.

Anne Arundel, Charles and Wicomico counties have asked to be included in the bill, which went before the full Senate for the first time on Tuesday.

Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore City and chairwoman of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, questioned whether an inmate could get the medication in a detention center’s infirmary.

She wanted to know if the bill really meant people in the program couldn’t get it if they were incarcerated in the detention center.

At that point, Sen. Andrew Serafini, R-Washington, explained that the sheriff’s office can’t distribute marijuana — medical or not — because it is still a violation of federal law, and the detention center isn’t an authorized dispensary.

Serafini added that the detention center gets some federal funding for housing federal inmates.

Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton, D-Charles, said that if an inmate is prescribed medical marijuana, “it’s up to the detention center” to decide whether to to distribute it. But the facility must have a safe place to keep and dispense it, he said.

“We already know I can’t have it in my cell,” Conway said. “You can’t even have Tylenol. My understanding was this was prohibiting, because we don’t have a plan of dispensing.”

And her understanding was pretty close, Serafini told Herald-Mail Media. The bill prohibits use of medical cannabis in the detention center, because the sheriff’s office can’t dispense it.

Conway asked that the bill be held while she considers an amendment.

“It didn’t go up in smoke, so we’ll work it out,” concluded Senate President Pro Temp Nathaniel McFadden, D-Baltimore City.