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Some compassion for the sick, please

Why allow medicinal marijuana in Anne Arundel? Because it would help people who are suffering.

The Anne Arundel Collation for Compassionate Care believes that County Executive Steve Schuh's anti-compassionate care legislation discriminates against county residents who suffer from the devastating effects of debilitating health conditions ("Medical marijuana ban runs into doubts," Sept. 15).

Patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, seizures, autoimmune diseases, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and other debilitating health conditions should not have to suffer in the darkness. They should not have to travel long distances to procure a medicine that their doctor and health professionals from around the world have deemed effective and beneficial.

Anne Arundel County residents should be afforded the right to local access to medicinal marijuana, which can improve their way of life. County Executive Schuh's reasoning for his anti-compassionate care legislation, while perhaps well intentioned, is misguided.

Mr. Schuh was quoted as saying, "The quantities that are allowed to be dispensed under the current Maryland law are rather frightening to me. We don't want to have a situation where everyone who is prescribed medical marijuana is in effect a little miniature dealer."

This concern is unfounded because current black market conditions prevent this from being an issue. Across the country, medicinal cannabis obtained at a dispensary is typically more expensive than black market cannabis due to taxes and fees applied by local and state governments. A drug dealer, someone who sells drugs for a profit, will not obtain medicinal cannabis for a price higher than he can distribute on the black market. That is basic economics. One doesn't buy at a high price and sell for a lower price, at a loss.

Executive Schuh has also been quoted as saying, "By enacting this legislation, Anne Arundel County policymakers and citizens will be able to monitor and assess the impacts of the Maryland marijuana law on the various counties and on the state as a whole. I do not want Anne Arundel County to be a guinea pig on this issue."

Luckily for Anne Arundel County, we will not have to serve as "guinea pig" on this issue because 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medicinal cannabis. California, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Maine, Rhode Island, Montana, Michigan and Oregon are currently utilizing dispensaries to sell medical cannabis. The California program has been established for almost two decades and has already filled the "guinea pig" shoes.

Rather than fearing the unknown, the Schuh administration should seek out advice from local jurisdictions across the country that are operating successful medical marijuana programs. Rather than wait-and-see, the administration should be proactive in safely and effectively structuring Anne Arundel County's program.

Perhaps the executive's most grossly off-base opinion is rooted solely in greed. The Schuh administration noted that the "Anne Arundel County Economic Development Corp. expressed concerns about the implications for Anne Arundel County's largely federal workforce and the limited direct economic impact on the county itself."

I interpret this comment to mean that based upon the large number of federal employees who reside in the county (and will not partake in the program), the county will not see an "impactful" amount of revenue from instituting a medical cannabis program.

In other words, it's all about the money. This view is downright sickening. The medicinal cannabis program should be established to help improve the quality of life of county residents who are suffering from debilitating health conditions. It should not be established just to make money off of the sick.

I urge County Executive Schuh to be proactive in developing Anne Arundel County's compassionate care program and not introduce legislation that bans medicinal cannabis.

Danielle Hodgkin, Gambrills

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