Legal Protections Passed for Maryland Medical Marijuana Caregivers

The General Assembly has passed a law that allows caregivers of patients who use medical marijuana to possess up to an ounce of pot without being convicted of a crime.

“We are expressing our belief that people who are sick should be able to access the drug without civil or criminal penalties,” said Sen. Jamie Raskin, a Montgomery County Democrat who introduced the bill.

Patients are protected under a 2011 law that allows them to use medical necessity as an “affirmative defense” in court if caught with marijuana and drug paraphernalia. On Monday, the House of Delegates voted 92-37 to approve a bill extending that defense for patients’ caregivers. The Senate has passed the same bill.

The measure now goes to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s desk. Spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said he has not decided whether to sign it.

Under the bill, caregivers — as well as patients — could still be charged with a crime for possessing the drug. But the legislation spells out how caregivers could prove themselves not guilty because they had the drug and paraphernalia to help a family member who takes it for medical reasons.

– Read the entire article in The Baltimore Sun.